In this guest post, Shadrack Wanjohi of Omniscient Digital suggests several ideas for diversifying and energizing team meeting topics that will make your meetings productive and enjoyable.
When you hear the phrase “team meetings” what comes to mind? If you’re a manager, it could be a recurring question where you’re always wondering how you can get better at leading team meetings. If you’re a team member, it makes you wonder whether that meeting is necessary. You may even wonder why your manager couldn’t share an update via Slack or include it in your weekly internal newsletter instead of calling for the meeting.
Whether you’re a manager or a team member, team meetings don’t ever seem to go away. In addition to other strategies you rely on to reduce the number of meetings, you need to keep your team engaged and interested whenever you meet.
Here are seven activities and team meeting topics that will help keep your remote and in-person meetings fun and engaging, as well as tips on when each activity could be ideal for you.
1. Add Some Variety to Your Brainstorming Sessions
Most likely, your strategy and planning meetings will have your immediate team members on board sharing their ideas. Some of these meetings can be boring if you’re using the same brainstorming techniques and working with the same team members repeatedly. How about having team members from different departments improve the ideas you get at your next strategy meeting?
For example, suppose you’re planning your content strategy. In that case, you not only need your strategists and editors on board but also team members from customer service to share the challenges that customers face. You’ll also need data analysts to share relevant and accurate data that will help in making informed decisions.
This encourages different views since everyone you invite will contribute to the strategy you create. It also breaks down silos and ensures a smooth workflow during implementation to make sure you’ve achieved your business objectives. Besides, you can vet the quality of ideas you collect by inviting experts to review your ideas. An expert can be a senior person in the company with relevant experience and expertise who can provide balanced feedback on your ideas.
When it comes to brainstorming techniques, consider borrowing a leaf from Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, authors of Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. In this book, they suggest a brainstorming technique called “How might we?”
Using “How Might We” Questions as Team Meeting Topics
The technique focuses on converting a problem into an opportunity, helping you reframe it and generate ideas on how you’re going to solve it. If you’re struggling to control employee expenses, here’s how you can reframe the problem into an opportunity using the “How might we’’ brainstorming framework:
- How might we create suitable payment methods?
- How might we create a friendly expense policy?
- How might we track expenses more efficiently to avoid fraud?
Now, with these questions, use a whiteboard (for in-person teams) or Miro board (for remote and hybrid teams) to write down ideas and answers to these questions. Then, let everyone contribute what they think under each question. Once you have suggestions and answers to the questions, get everyone to cast a vote on the best idea to make sure that the best ideas sail through.
2. Involve Every Team Member in Your Appreciation Sessions
Ideally, most teams are used to having the team leader appreciating the team members for their efforts, either during quarterly meetings or in one-on-one meetings with each team member. As a manager, however, you may miss someone’s unique contributions.
To make your appreciation sessions more comprehensive, turn them into an entire team activity by inviting every team member to appreciate each other for their contribution to the team’s success. For example, if you hit a milestone on time or even surpassed your goals, you can do this openly by inviting the team members to appreciate each other during the meeting.
Alternatively, ask the team members to send an appreciation note anonymously. A note should read “props to [name of the team member] for [a description of how their contribution led to the team’s success].” Compile all these appreciation notes and read them aloud during your next team meeting. Make it an ongoing team meeting topic by asking everyone to send in an appreciation note regularly. It will keep everyone motivated to do their best and curious to hear about the notes you’ve received.
3. Let Team Members Suggest the Games They Want to Play
Playing a game such as charades or a scavenger hunt — even online versions! — helps employees bond and get to know each other better. Such games also help new team members have an easier time integrating into your company. To keep things interesting, avoid being the one who comes up with all the ideas on what games to play, whether you’re doing it remotely or in your company’s office. Ask for suggestions from your team members asking for ideas on games and then run a poll to settle on the games they want to play in your next meeting.
4. Hold Debate Sessions
Different trends shape how your consumers behave, and it’s important to hear what your team members think about these trends. In the process, they may share some useful insights that will help you decide whether you need to pivot your strategy to make it easier to stay competitive. Other times, you can have these debates for fun, especially when the conversation is about topics outside your industry or niche.
When looking for team meeting topics that will spark meaningful debates, be on the lookout for trends that shape consumer behavior, changes in government regulation, the economic environment, customer expectations, and industry changes. For example, the rise of AI tools will definitely shape how companies work, with some using it to improve their content creation processes and others using it to enhance customer service initiatives.
Using such a trend to come up with a debate topic with your team members helps you learn more about what they think and how you can use such a tool to improve collaboration in your content operations.
5. Establish a Link Between the Individual and Team-Wide Goals
Every week, employees spend a huge amount of their time at work. You want to make sure that in addition to achieving their personal goals, they’re also on track to achieving their professional goals.
Set up a time when employees can share their quarterly professional goals that are linked to their key performance indicators (KPIs) and overall company objectives, and encourage them to conduct regular check-ins with one another to share their progress.
Achieving goals may not always be a linear progression of events. That means having them check in with relevant leaders and mentors to help them get unstuck. This is best for both in-person and remote teams, where you can have a goals leaderboard for location-based teams or a document collaboration tool for remote and hybrid teams. This way, everyone can keep track of what others are doing in the company.
During meetings, lead by example by sharing your goals with the team and invite them to do the same. Provide regular updates on the progress you’re all making towards achieving these goals and the challenges you’re facing. Announcing these goals expands the support network and places the employee on a path to achieving their goals, so it becomes easier to keep them engaged and less worried about hitting their KPIs.
6. Share Your Personal Stories
Stories are an interesting way to help team members interact and have fun in meetings. Due to the rise in remote work culture, you’re likely to have team members from different countries, which often means different cultures.
Have each team member share a personal story or anecdote that can provide insight into their values and perspectives. The team can also share a story about their culture or about how they do things in their country or region. You can also keep this team meeting topic more casual by starting light-hearted conversations, such as about how they got started in the role they’re in right now.
7. Education Session
In addition to having team members brainstorm ideas during strategy sessions, it’s also important to encourage them to share their knowledge with each other to help build the team’s skills and competence.
For example, if you want to streamline your content operations, bring writers on board with your editor to help them learn how to send in content that is ready to publish through a virtual training program. This makes it easier for writers to know what the editor expects from writers.
Alternatively, send each team member on a study mission to learn something new to help the team move forward, then make a point of having them teach the entire team. Have one team member present on a team meeting topic they are knowledgeable about — for example, resource management — to help broaden the team’s understanding of how to use available resources. Once they’re done presenting, have a question-and-answer session so that you can address any questions that may arise.
Using team meeting topics to improve employee engagement can be difficult if there’s little alignment or the team lacks cohesion. Also, remember that your employees have different personalities. Activities may be a good fit for some workers and a bad fit for others. Whatever activity you choose, keep it relevant to the team. This makes it worthwhile and keeps you focused on what matters: keeping your team meetings engaging.
Shadrack Wanjohi is a writer at Omniscient Digital, a premium content marketing agency. He creates data-driven, long-form content for B2B and SaaS brands that helps them drive organic traffic and generate qualified leads.
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