10 Ways to Not Have a Boring Meeting
This month’s article has been provided by Jim Carroll.
I spend a fair bit of time on the MimList; it’s a global forum of meeting planners. Someone referenced an article from Hotel and Motel Management, on the fact that many attendees at conferences are finding that things are becoming a bit dull.
When I read the article, I agreed; I see many meeting organizers on autopilot, doing the same programs over and over. So I charged ahead and wrote up my thoughts on the matter, coming up with my 10 Ways to Try to Not Have a Boring Meeting.
1. Do things different.
Don’t do what you did last year. Set out from the start to try to do something else. *That’s* your key objective.
2. Banish bad phrases.
At your first meeting planning meeting, stop the meeting the first time someone says, “We’ve always done it that way.” Stop. Pause. Deep breath. Calmly state, “And your point is?”
3. Get a 22 year old involved.
They think different! They are different! They are the ones who are really bored; the rest are probably asleep. Seek their input; it’s valuable and important. You can learn a lot from them.
4. Forget team building, icebreakers, keynotes, spousal programs, breakouts.
Think of new words that mean new things. “Startling openers.” “10 ideas that will shock you.” “Not a keynote — it’s a dramatic wake up call.” “A big group talking about big things”. Whatever — the point is to banish words *that mean the same old thing*. Banish the words — and you are banishing a certain line of thinking.
5. Throw out your program brochure template.
Hire someone you don’t like to redo it. Explain what you are trying to do, and ask them what *they* think. You might find their radical ideas present a breath of fresh air.
6. Go elsewhere. Forget Vegas, NYC and Orlando.
Go to Boise! Maine! Seattle! Victoria! Halifax! Cuba! Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result each time.” If you take your folks to Vegas every 2nd year, it’s just another opportunity for them to get hammered in the same bar while they wake up with the same hangover to go see the same old tired opening talk.
7. Put the seats in the opening session upside down, and face them backwards!
Why not? Everyone knows that they are going to come in to this big room, they are going to find lots of seats, and they are all going to be pointed at the front. SO CHANGE IT. Radical times call for radical change — and that’s a good point to get across. Heck — put the stage at the back of the room, and sit everyone up front.
8. Put a big “ITS RUBBER CHICKEN!” sign on your lunchtime chicken — and have a rubber chicken for a centerpiece!
We *ALL* know it is going to be chicken. It’s going to be lousy. The fact is, we’re bored with chicken — so lets celebrate it! Lets’ note it! Let’s point it out! That itself is good for a bit of difference!
9. Program differently!
Invite a speaker you don’t know. Invite someone in from an industry *totally* unrelated to what you do to talk. Do things different — if your CEO or association head typically does the opening address, ask the newest member to say something too! In other words, do something totally different from what you do. Y’know, sort of like “opposite day,” which is what my kids always suggest to me.
10. Confront boring.
The fact that there is an article like this out there *IS NOT A GOOD THING*. This is an industry suffering from a deep malaise. The same programs. The same content. The same table settings. The same stuff. The same places. The same things. The same phrases.
Think different, be different, do different. At least Apple had it right. So should you.
Jim Carroll, FCA, is a leading international futurist, trends & innovation expert, with clients such as the US Army Corps of Engineers, Nestle, Motorola, and the Government Finance Officers Association, and the author of the book “What I Learned From Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin With Forward Thinking Innovation“. You can contact Jim at email@example.com and learn more about his keynote presentations and workshops at www.jimcarroll.com.