Great meetings don’t happen on their own…they happen because they’re created.
Here are a few of the key ingredients we attempt to incorporate for great creative meetings:
- Get a diverse audience – the more diversity, the better the conversation.
- Get everyone the topic and clarify expectations as early as possible – we want our guests and contributors to show up prepared and knowing what this meeting is all about.
- Choose the right venue – Choose a space that supports your goals. We like to choose venues themed towards our subject matter.
- Be prepared – Do your homework. Make sure you have an agenda, a plan, and enough data to inspire the conversation. Have all your resources prepared and in place before anyone arrives.
- Cater to creativity – Toys keep people busy. Bright spaces keep people alert. Make sure there are snacks, drinks, and trinkets. A secret: mint actually fires endorphins that ignite creativity. Don’t be afraid to theme snacks to your subject matter.
- Take Breaks – It’s important to keep meetings moving, but it’s equally important to take enough breaks for people to stay engaged. It’s an art to manage both momentum and fatigue.
- Think “theme” & “environment.” Use necessary and available themes as props in your meeting. If you’re talking about Christmas, make the room cold, have cookies, hang decorations, play Christmas music. Planning theme and environment also sets the expectation of intentionality and purpose.
- Music matters – This is probably the easiest and most impacting rule. Music sets atmosphere and tone. Use it wisely.
- Never say no – Creative meetings are for ideas, not boundaries. Create space for people to embrace creative freedom. Allow even bad ideas to breathe…they just might spark the best ideas.
- Document everything – One person who is documenting the day should write down everything; the good, bad, ridiculous, and inspiring. We obviously won’t use all the data in our edit time but today, in the creative meeting, document every single idea.
- Start with a game – Attendees show up thinking about their jobs, family, email, responsibilities and the list goes on and on…it’s important to start with a game that will get everyone to shift into a creative mode. Something that gets their mind working creatively and out of the “norm”. This may have nothing to do with our goal, but it changes the focus and that is important.
- Keep it moving – Never let creative meetings bog down. Keep them moving. If a meeting bogs down, change the subject or the focus.
- Embrace collaboration – Mix up the room. Allow some exercises to be in groups and allow the groups to shuffle. Collaboration will inspire conversation and other ideas. It’s also important for users to share ideas with the group after exercises.
- Know your goal – Have a clear plan for what needs to be accomplished. Without knowing a target, there is no possibility of making this effective.
- Make it user friendly – Remove boundaries. Have hosts. We’re going to want effort put into creativity – not finding a seat, knowing where to park, or needing a pen. The more user friendly, the better the ideas will be.
- Make sure there is a director – Someone who knows the goal, has personality, and is aware of how to get us to the end goal. A great director is going to be like an orchestra director. Pulling, pausing, pushing, and reading the room.
- Don’t leave out the fun – Fun is paramount. Studies show creativity thrives when people have room to play.
- Think about the agenda – Some group stuff. Some individual stuff. Time to eat. Time to start. Time to leave. When breaks happen. Questions. Goals. Plans. The agenda is the road map to what may be great ideas.