There is no reason that meetings can’t be fun, interesting, and refreshing… it’s just that they usually aren’t.  To break out of the doldrums of those regularly scheduled meetings, I suggest you try one of the following ideas to spice things up.  Who knows, it might bring out some new ideas or alternative ways of looking at a problem.

1.  Schedule an Odd Length of Time

Why is a TED Talk 18 minutes?  Because they feel that it is enough time to convey a message without losing your audience.  Why is a meeting either 30 or 60 minutes?  For no logical reason at all.
For your next meeting, try setting the length to 17 or 22 minutes.  By Parkinson’s law, work expands to fill the allotted time.  So, it is very likely that the 30 minute meeting will be just as effective a​t one of these shorter lengths.

2.  Ask an Odd Question

Want to throw everyone off?  Instead of asking something like “what feature should we be working on next?”, ask “what is competitor’s name doing better than us?”.  Instead of asking for an explanation of how something works, ask “If you were dropped into a kindergarten classroom, how would you explain how it works to them?”  Jolt people by asking a question that might be taboo or that is completely unexpected.  Keep people interested and on their toes.

3.  Appoint a Devil’s Advocate

Hat tip to Reddit user u/evil_capitalist123 for this one.  He says,
“The [Devil’s Advocate] is responsible for punching holes in a plan. This isn’t meant to completely derail every idea, but a well trained DA can really point out some things that everyone else is missing…”

4.  Walk it Out

We’ve tinkered with walking meetings with mixed success.  They are most effective when you are trying to brainstorm or work through conceptual ideas, rather than when you are talking about specific tasks and strategies where it is useful to have a computer right in front of you.  A change of scenery and the added movement can drive people to think in different ways.

5.  Solve with Software

Meeting management software, such as Attentiv or even Evernote (presentation mode), can help you stay organized and efficient before and during meetings.  By requiring an agenda, you ensure that there is a defined flow to the meeting.  And, with software, you can ask questions and get real-time, anonymous feedback which ensures you receive the truth rather than yes-men responses.  But perhaps our favorite feature of meeting management software has been the auto-generation of meeting minutes.  This ensures that the activity and outcomes of the meetings is tracked and searchable.

6.  Use a Countdown Timer

A fun way to make a meeting move efficiently is by assigning a length of time to each item on the meeting.  Have this timer be visible and honored by attendees – when time is up, we move on.  This format was first introduced on TV by Pardon the ​Interruption, and since then, every news channel has at least one show that copies the format.  Meeting attendees should be familiar with the concept and will be more attuned to how much time they are taking up on any one topic. Here is an easy one you can open in your browser and keep on the screen during a meeting.
So there you have 5 meeting ideas that you don’t run into everyday.  What is your favorite way to mix up a meeting and get people interacting and thinking in different ways?