Creative meetings don’t work.

We put a lot of pressure on these meetings. We schedule a time where all the ideas are supposed to show up and “WOW” everyone. But the truth of the matter is if we are not intentional, creative meetings don’t work.

I know this from experience. As leaders, it’s our job to host creative meetings that have a chance at producing returns. So why are our meetings not working?

  • Not prepared in advance – The ideas can’t show up when we get there. For a creative meeting to produce anything of value, each member has to do the work in advance of the meeting. Make sure as a leader to give as much information as possible on the topic as early as possible and then give attendees a chance to collect, review, and prepare. Very rarely does a creative meeting produce anything of value if those in the meeting are not equipped early and encouraged to bring the ideas, inspiration, and concepts they have collected over the course of time.
  • Not building the right environment – Environment matters. If we’re not creating a mood that enhances creativity, we can’t expect the results necessary to make this meeting matter. Think about lighting, music, location, and activities for attendees. Without an environment that can inspire, we risk the time even being worth it.
  • Leaders talk too much – Leaders set tone. With that in mind, it’s important that people feel empowered to speak freely. When leaders inject their opinion early, they taint the natural direction of the creative process. It’s important to learn the discipline of going last and allowing the amazing members of our teams to speak freely, first, and openly about their ideas. When they feel empowered to go first, it allows fresh and new ideas with a completely unique perspective.
  • No direction – If a creative team does not have a moderator leading the meeting, it can’t succeed. There’s a theory that organization stifles creativity. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Order helps create intentionality and boundaries for great ideas to thrive. Have a moderator with a plan and an itinerary. Stay on task and respect the time of those attending.
  • Wrong People – Who should be invited to a creative meeting? Everyone. Anyone. Diversity is key and good ideas can come from anywhere. Staff, volunteers, people who are in and out of your organization. People who have nothing to do with what you do. Get unique voices so you get unique perspective.
  • Create space for all ideas and edit later – Creative meetings make the most sense when we get our best ideas verbalized. Creative meetings should be safe environments where anyone can say anything without the fear of criticism. Collect all these ideas and encourage them. Never say no or bad. Editing happens later. If we want creative meetings to matter, allow them to be idea incubators.

So the next time you’re tasked to host a creative meeting, learn from mistakes I’ve lived through so you don’t have to! Creative meetings can be great when they are done well and with purpose.

Go Create.


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