#8: build a better (CREATIVE) meeting

our build a better meeting series is about creating and leading meetings that are efficient and effective. last week i participated in a creative meeting that got me thinking about how different and sometimes difficult it is to lead effectively through a creative meeting. inviting the right people, sticking to an agenda, creating an environment where people can contribute their best ideas, and facilitating towards the goal are tricky things to accomplish.

after the meeting last week, i spent time reflecting on what made that experience great, and it came down to a simple factor: it was led well from beginning to end. the leader was prepared and facilitated the experience perfectly. here’s a breakdown of what i observed:

invite: there were only 5 people in our meeting including the facilitator. usually a smaller number of people is better for a creative meeting. invite a few select people who are different types of creative thinkers (big crazy ideas, small practical ideas, etc.) and who will create momentum and energy while they are together.

prepare: the leader sent an agenda to us a week before the meeting with the goal for the day, samples to help generate ideas, the time schedule, and what he expected from each of us.

facilitate: we were led through a creative exercise at the beginning of the meeting that helped unite the group and create an environment of safety. it would have been difficult to dive into brainstorming right away, this helped ease us into the meeting.

watch: keep an eye on the clock. the leader stuck to a strict schedule that started, ended and allowed for adequate break time right on schedule.  because i never worried about the time, i had freedom to always be creatively thinking.

protect: i was a bit nervous going into the meeting because i had never brainstormed with this specific group before and they all had reputations for being creative giants, but the leader made me feel valued, and worked to affirm my ideas during the process. he didn’t allow side conversations or negativity to occur anytime during the meeting.

after the meeting, i asked the #kidmin community for their best creative meeting tips. here they are:

@megantowell:instant creativity is a fallacy-send out brainstorm topics a week early so they have time to be creative and their ideas can grow!

@jillnelson:meet in a room with a large dry erase board, and designate someone with good hand writing to put ideas on it. say that any idea will go on the board because while it may not seem great initially, it could trigger some great, creative ideas in someone else.

@megantowell:we are a visual culture- look through istockphoto and send images related to the topic to get people’s creative juices flowing!

@cherylbenston:meet in a creative place-whether that’s outside, or comfy room with a great vibe. have lots of creative tools available – crayons, markers, paper, playdough – so you can “play” while you think. i love getting a blank sheet of paper and new markers to just start doodling and letting my mind wander!

thanks for the (CREATIVE) meeting tips!

i love that this is a collaborative project. next week’s build a better meeting tip is how to incorporate virtual participants (via skype, iChat, tokbox, etc.) into your meetings. if you’ve got a great tip, email or tweet me: amy@lemonlimekids.com | @adolan

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