guide to outside the box meetings

Your Guide to Outside-the-Box Meetings

If you’re a regular meeting host, you’ve probably wondered how you can make your in-person and virtual meetings more engaging. A lot of workers are naturally defensive about meetings; they view them as a bore at best and a total waste of time at worst. However, they remain one of the best tools for collaboration.

If you find yourself struggling to keep your meetings fresh (especially recurring ones), it might be time to take a walk on the wild side. Let’s take a look at some outside-the-box ideas to spice up your in-person or virtual meetings:

Stand-Up Meetings
Ideal for:
Daily check-ins, team status meetings, project updates

The concept of the stand-up meeting is simple: ditch the chairs and conference tables and have everyone stand up for the duration of the meeting. This keeps the group focused on the task at hand and keeps people from getting too comfortable, ensuring that the meeting is briskly paced and doesn’t drag on unnecessarily.

Stand-up meetings are very effective for around-the-horn style updates on projects or team assignments, and are even used as integral parts of several project management and software development methodologies.

Dodgeball Meetings
Ideal for:
Creative brainstorms

Have you ever heard the phrase, “There’s no judgment in brainstorming?” It’s often easy in meetings to get wrapped up in the negatives, focusing on why an idea won’t work instead of exploring an idea’s merits or using it as a springboard to a new approach.

To combat this problem, bring an assortment of soft toys and arrange them on the table in front of the group. As ideas are being presented, if anyone starts picking an idea apart, the other guests can (safely!) toss one of the toys at them to remind them to give the idea a chance!

Walking Meetings
Ideal for:
One-on-ones, ad hoc chats

We’ve all had a day where we felt trapped at our desk or couldn’t bear the thought of staring at our computer screen for another minute. Instead of wistfully staring out the nearest window at the lovely weather outside, why not take your next meeting for a walk?

Find a nice spot near your office and chat on-the-go, giving yourself an opportunity to stretch your legs and brains all while getting a respite from your cubicle. Besides, practically everyone agrees that prolonged sitting at work is killing us!

“Voting” Meetings
Ideal for:
Brainstorms, project planning

There are many ways to brainstorm new ideas with a team or devise approaches for tackling a new project. One of my favorites involves little more than a whiteboard or pinboard and some colored stickers. As ideas come in, they’re written on or pinned to a board, then each individual attendee votes on their favorites by attaching their colored sticker to the idea.

If you’re worried about peer pressure, you can even separate the “voting” from the meeting itself; brainstorm the ideas together, but then place the board in a central location and let people vote at their leisure, away from prying eyes.

Hourglass Meetings
Ideal for:
Longer meetings, interdepartmental meetings

For this meeting type you’ll need two things: an agenda of all topics to be covered and an hourglass (or other suitable, visible time-keeping mechanism).

For each topic on your agenda, the group is only allotted the amount of time in the hourglass. Once the sand has run out on a topic, that’s it—no prolonged, meandering discussions allowed. The timeboxing forces creative problem-solving and a fast pace, keeping the conversation lively and sending non-essential tangents to email where they belong.

While we tend to get into a routine with our meetings, you’re really only limited by your imagination. As long as you’re comfortable that the objective can still be met, don’t be afraid to be a little adventurous and get outside the box for your next meeting!

Looking for more ways to improve your meetings? Check out 5 Reasons Why Your Meetings Are Bad (and How to Fix Them).

About Joshua Erwin

Josh is a content creator and strategist with a passion for all things tech, such as the latest gadgets, apps, games and more. Josh loves listening to and playing music and is a big college football fan, especially for his alma mater Georgia Bulldogs. When not writing for PGi, you’ll find him gaming or drumming on Sundays for the Atlanta Falcons.

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