12 Ways to Kick Off Your Meetings

Do you face the challenge of keeping your regular team meetings fresh?

Here are twelve tried and tested ways to kick off your meeting, one for each month in the year.

To take the burden off you, each month, assign a title to a different person in the group and have them organise and run it for that month’s meeting.

For the cynical amongst your team, we give a reason for doing the exercise as well as an explanation of how to run it. Most exercises take no more than five minutes.

Month

Title

Action

Reason

January Wrecking Crew Split the team in to threes. Have them devise three ways the most senior person in the group could wreck the meeting. Next, have them devise three ways each person could wreck the workshop. Record on a flipchart. Review the outcomes and reverse them. Gain agreement from the group to use these as guidelines for this and future meetings. Establish guidelines for this and future meetings in an entertaining way.
February Coincidences Pair up. Run through your life and in two minutes of rapid conversation try to find a coincidence. Some suggestions are: Where born; Where live; Where educated; Where married; Favourite destinations; Interests; Team supported; Companies worked for; How many children; Type of work; Hobbies; Favourite film etc Have people get to know each other better. Even if they don’t find a coincidence, they learn a lot.

Month

Title

Action

Reason

March Draw a Face Pair up. Each person must remain silent throughout. Each takes turns in drawing a line on a piece of paper to form a face. If they lift the pen from the paper, they stop. They continue until the face is drawn to either’s satisfaction. Next, they write a name for the face they have drawn, writing one letter each until the name is complete. Have people think visually for a change, rather than verbally.
April Best Day of Your Life Pair up. People stand so they can hear each other but not see the face of their partner. One person talks for one minute uninterrupted and without stopping. They talk about the best day of their life and why it was. They swap speaker and repeat the exercise. To encourage improvisational thinking and promote teamwork.

Month

Title

Action

Reason

May Design a Product Small groups generate an idea for a product (or you can give them an idea) e.g. a chair with an ejector spring, socks that comes to you when you whistle (make it fun)! They have to give it a name, jingle & strap line within five minutes. Once a name, jingle and strap line is suggested it can only be built on, e.g. someone suggests a telephone, you cannot propose a chair, only ideas to “enhance” the telephone. They have to sing the jingle and feedback name and strap line in one minute. Encourages listening and maintaining a train of thought. Also improvisation.
June One Word Story Stand in a circle of about five people. One participant starts a story with a single word. The next person builds the story with one word and so on. Keep going until the story finishes. If you lose track, start another story. Encourage listening and concentration and “staying in the moment.” Encourages improvisation.

Month

Title

Action

Reason

July Pocket Piece Each person brings in an item that is special to them (or you could have them take something from their pocket). They have to explain to another person the story behind the piece. Repeat with other people if time. Develop more knowledge about each other.
August Ping Pong In pairs A & B, standing. A serves B a “Ping”. B returns a “Pong”. Keep it going with rhythm. Leader of group says to change serve after thirty seconds. (B pings and A pongs). After thirty seconds they can change at will, speeding up and slowing down. After two minutes tell them to change partners but keep the service going. Now tell them to change serve at will and vary the number of pings and pongs. Teaches people to improvise within a very basic structure

Month

Title

Action

Reason

September Sort Line Line people up in a straight line by month of birth, then change “sort” topic, e.g. first letter of mother’s name before marriage (A-Z), then change again (e.g. town of birth). Active and people learn more about each other.
October Scaling Ask people to stand on a scale of 1 – 10 to identify how well they think the team is working together. 10 is brilliant, 1 is terrible. Don’t worry about in between. When they have stood at their spot, ask each in turn, “What got you up to this number?” If they try to say what got them down to this number, stop them and repeat the question. If time, ask each person, “What would move you one step up the scale and only one step”. A way to show team feeling by identifying the positive points and not the negative.

Month

Title

Action

Reason

November Alphabet Story Each person has to build a story a sentence at a time with the first word of each sentence starting with the next letter in the alphabet(A, B, C, D, etc) “Albert flew to Paris” – “Brave without an airplane” – “Could have got killed”, “Didn’t though” “Ejected over Calais” etc. Aids concentration and listening skills.
December Keep Up the Balloons Give each person three balloons to inflate. Three should be red ones. Play lively music. The objective is to see how long the team can keep all the balloons in the air but most importantly the three red ones. Intended to show difficulty of juggling tasks (balloons as a metaphor for tasks).

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John Brooker

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