Let’s be honest: Nobody likes meetings. Well, at least in the traditional sit-around-the-table-and-wait-for-your-turn-to-speak format that still dominates the majority of company strategy these days. Research shows that meetings have increased in length and frequency over the past 50 years, and that executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week in them, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s. But, breaking away from the stagnation, boredom and discomfort these sessions bring is easier than you realize. For the sake of everyone involved, it’s time you try holding an unconventional business meeting.
To understand the perks of this outside the box approach, it’s crucial to first realize how inefficient and mind-numbing normal meetings can be for employees. Think about it for a second — the conventional formats are generally boring and can cause anxiety, and rightfully so. They’re often overwhelmed by disinterest, feigned attention and an atmosphere that says “let’s get this over as quickly as possible.” That’s not good for business or company culture.
But, there’s more to this than just productivity or office vibes. Traditional meetings also support poor lifestyle choices and behavior like staying indoors and remaining sedentary, being fixated on technology — whether that’s PowerPoints, cell phones, or beyond — and snacking on unhealthy foods to pass the time. In an age where more is being placed on employee health and happiness than ever before, you can’t afford to encourage poor, vitality-draining habits. You’re better than that.
That’s where the unconventional business meeting comes in. Rather than fostering an impersonal and uncomfortable environment, strive to create one that’s more enjoyable for all parties involved. There are a number of ways to approach this, but the key here is doing something unique that will create a lasting experience that is true to your brand. That doesn’t mean you have to do anything extreme, though — it can be something as simple as taking a walk or getting outside the office for a bit. You’ll be amazed by how much this will boost participation, attentiveness and collaboration among the participants.
It all comes down to stimulation. Being physically active and outdoors inspires creativity and new ways of thinking — a crucial component of tackling a task from a variety of angles. Just as importantly, unconventional meetings help you get to know others better by focusing on developing individual relationships rather than solely on the business task at hand. Once you forge that personal connection, your team will be unstoppable.
Here are a few of my favorite unconventional business meeting ideas:
There are few things more engaging in this world than tomahawk target practice. For obvious reasons, participants have to remain alert, focused and sharp. But, this is intended to be far more fun than intense — kind of a throwback to childhood summer camp memories. We just got a custom tomahawk target installed at our office (pictured above).
This option may be a bit more accessible than tomahawk throwing, but it’s just as helpful. Getting out into nature and fresh air can help melt the workplace stresses away while giving everyone a much-needed escape from technology. In fact, a study from Stanford showed that walking boosts creative inspiration, and that a person’s output increased by 60 percent when walking. If you don’t have easy access to a hiking path, just walking around the city can be a great change of pace. Whether we acknowledge it or not, all of us could use a break from screens and a little more sunshine in our lives.
Making lunch together
One of the most natural things you can do with an employee or coworker is make lunch together. After all, it’s something you do every day! This not only gives you an easy, laid-back medium in which to talk, it gives you the chance to bond over taste, diet and most of all, food.
Playing Frisbee with a dog
Looking for another way to get outside that’s a little less active? This one’s for you. As a dog-friendly office, we have a number of furry friends running around our desks and keeping us entertained. To give us a little entertainment — and the dogs some exercise — we’ll step outside and toss the Frisbee with the pups. It never fails to serve as a reset for the workday’s busy-ness and to get the creative juices flowing.
So buck tradition. Break out something new and give your employees or coworkers a different experience they’re sure to enjoy. Once you realize how productive and pleasant unconventional meetings can be, you’ll never go back to the archaic ways of PowerPoints, tables and tablets.