Before I begin this blog post…
by Alan Ferguson
Last Tuesday, we were lucky to be on the 17th floor of Westminster Council’s building looking out over London on a bright sunny day. A room full of comms bods ready for a day of learning and sharing.
Wednesday, 22 March was a lot different in Westminster.
making meetings better
I went into unchartered territory on Tuesday at the comms2point0 UnAwards Masterclass by pitching / hosting a session as part of the unconference. I am so glad I did.
We are always looking for fresh ways to spice up our meetings to enthuse the team. They can become dull and mundane, a bit repetitive and really gets to the point when no one benefits from it.
We are currently in a battery hen-style office environment, with boardroom style meeting space. We also appreciate that the physical space we work in needs to change – and very soon will, thanks to new ways of working at Central Bedfordshire Council.
But aside from that, I wanted to hear what I called the ‘3Ts for meeting success’ which are tips, tricks and techniques – I might trademark the 3Ts, everyone LOVES an acronym.
Here are some of the ideas and suggestions that came out of the meeting. They are in particular order.
Make it competitive
The example here was an internal blog which staff are encouraged to write pieces for. The blog with the highest views wins a bottle of wine – bought and presented by the person with the lowest views.
Ask the staff
Managers tend to lead meetings. Ask the staff what they want from their team meetings. Also, get staff to prepare the agenda and take turns leading the meeting giving their own spin on it each time.
Watch webinars together
I LOVED this one. So simple! There are loads of free webinars around. So pick a topic get everyone together (with or without popcorn), watch it and then have a group discussion about how you could use it for the organisation. It saves you lots of time preparing the content for a presentation / discussion yourself.
Share creative ideas all the time – not just at meetings
The idea being here some people do not like talking in group session so have a whiteboard in the office where people can pop up post it notes relating to campaigns to get suggestions on how they can improve it – get fresh ideas from others who are not as close to the topic.
Closed online groups
Share ideas with other comms professionals in online communities such as the new Comms Leads Group which Darren runs on Slack and the Public Sector Comms Headspace Facebook group. Set up your own just for your colleagues to share ideas quickly.
Also consider Google hangouts for including colleagues who are not physically at the meetings – more important these days with remote working.
Word association games and bad ideas
More reading for me on the benefits of word association games, however a quick Google search lead me to this blog called 7 Brainstorming Tricks to Inspire Brilliant Ideas which then lead me to read about the come up with bad ideas first technique.
One way to loosen people up and get the ideas flowing? Start out brainstorming sessions by spending 10 minutes coming up with a bunch of bad ideas first. You might throw one out yourself first to show them what you mean. This will help you set a much more open and playful tone than a formal atmosphere would.
Invite service owners to team meetings
Bring service owners to meetings when you are brainstorming their area. How obvious…!
Have an ‘unmeeting’
This was a tongue in cheek suggestion but I liked it. Bit like an unconference, pitch ideas for an ‘unmeeting’ and then the team decide which one they want to brainstorm at that time.
Change the environment
1. Go to great conferences such as the Comms2Point0 masterclass
2. Go out to a café for a meeting and not in a meeting room
3. Find a relaxed break out area
4. Maximise open spaces
Use digital tools
Some are using Trello, others getting ideas and info from WhatsApp, and I’ve already mentioned closed Facebook groups.
Timing of meetings
So when IS the best time? Maybe not Friday afternoons…But Wednesday because you can see what you’ve done so far this week and are planning for the rest of the week.
Studies found that cakes, chocolate and buns help creativity J
Produce an activity grid
Split out stakeholders and produce a summary activity grid for all channels to share what each team member is doing and also avoid messaging clashing.
Split meetings between functional / planning and creative
Note to self - perhaps we are trying too much to be functional and creative in the same meeting!
If you are having a bad creative session – stop, reschedule. Sometimes stopping is the best option.
Sometimes people don’t like to admit when they need a bit of help from a colleague or manager – do share blockers. A problem shared is a problem halved.
Someone wins the ‘Top banana’ award and only gives this award up when the next person does something more worthy.
Stand up meetings
Quick-fire regular stand up meetings to brief each other on key topics. Anything that needs further discussion is taken outside the meeting.
Lunchtime show and tell
Invite discussion over a sarnie – bring your own lunch, and have a chat in a more relaxed environment.
Giving feedback to each other. You buddy up with someone and have to tell them something they are great at and something they can do better.
That’s my lot. If there is anything you’d like to add to this feel free to let me know via Twitter - @alanfergs
Finally, thanks to all speakers from Tuesday, to Darren and Dan from comms2point0 for an excellent day and to all the sponsors for making this a superb free event.
Alan Ferguson is web manager at Central Bedfordshire Council
image via Het Nieuwe Instituut