When it comes to meetings, time is increasingly of the essence. With the rise in remote working and collaboration tools to streamline communication, resistance towards holding physical meetings is growing. However, the reality is that an old-fashioned round table remains the most effective way to brainstorm, quickly communicate key messages and ensure a group of people are all on the same page. Done right, meetings can be a powerful source of creativity, motivation and team spirit.
The challenge is to ensure the meeting remains on topic and within its intended timeframe, without crushing creativity and restricting the flow of ideas. How do you do this with a room full of creative (read, wandering) minds? Here are our top three tips for keeping your creative meetings on track:
1. Set a time limit
And actually stick to it! If you’re limited by time, you’ll be more inclined to stick to the topic and avoid wandering on to other irrelevant issues. Make sure the meeting kicks off on time, and you launch straight into the first point on the agenda. If you’re known as a creative director or project manager who keeps to scheduled meeting times, you’re likely to have better attendance and more engaged attendees if they know that a one-hour meeting isn’t going to drag into three. Remember, you don’t have to default to 30 minutes or an hour. Can you condense what you need to cover into a 15-minute power brainstorm instead?
2. Have an agenda
Create an agenda for your meeting, being specific about what needs to be covered and the reason you have called the attendees to contribute. Distribute this to all attendees before the meeting so they have a chance to review, giving them time to prepare, and leaving no illusions as to what will be discussed in the meeting. If there are any relevant documents or resources that need to be reviewed, send these through too. For creative brainstorming sessions, keep your agenda to just one or two key points, so you have the freedom to explore these completely. Assign a moderator, if needed, to reign in any tangents - this doesn’t mean they should dominate the conversation, just that they should steer it in the right direction when it’s getting too far off course.
3. Ditch the distractions
It has become a bit of a default now to walk into a meeting room with your smartphone, tablet or laptop (or a combination of these!). How often do you catch people checking their emails, replying to a message or looking over an unrelated document? These distractions break the creative flow and add an unnecessary lag to your meeting. Unless internet access is needed for the meeting, ask your attendees to leave unnecessary technology at the door, and assign one or two people to take notes to distribute after the meeting.
In the creative world, “every minute you avoid spending in a meeting is a minute you can get real work done instead”, so use these tips to keep your meetings on-task and on time!
Do you have any other tips for running successful creative meetings? These these in the comments below.