Teams everywhere rejoice, for the month of July has arrived — or as we like to call it: BORING MEETING PREVENTION MONTH!
sparkspace invented Boring Meeting Prevention Month many moons ago as a yearly reminder to STOP HAVING SUCH BORING MEETINGS! Sorry for the all caps here, but we feel it is warranted.
As we do every year, throughout the month of July we will be sharing ideas to shake up and wake up your meetings, no matter if your meetings are in person or all virtual these days.
Feel free to let us know how you spice up your meetings as well. Because even though we created it, Boring Meeting Prevention Month truly belongs to the all the people of the world.
We will be adding resources throughout July, so bookmark this page or keep an eye on our social media for updates!
BMPM Recommendation #1 – PLAY TELESTRATIONS
When we want to laugh together (and what team doesn’t need that today???) we pull out our well-worn, staff favorite board game, TELESTRATIONS. The best way to describe Telestrations is that it’s Pictionary plus the old “telephone game” combined.
It’s super easy to play and guaranteed to make you giggle until your face hurts. Depending on the size of your team, you can play a round in just a couple of minutes. Our team of 5 often squeezes in two rounds at the beginning of a staff meeting. Oh, and we highly recommend doing it at the BEGINNING of a staff meeting. Changes the whole meeting vibe for the better.
Pro tip: don’t keep score. Just play. And laugh. And bond.
While there isn’t a virtual/videoconference version of this game that we could find, here’s a simple “drawing competition” we came up with:
1. Take turns assigning a “simple” thing to draw, like “Airport” or “Horse” or “Pimple”.
2. Give everyone 1 minute to draw on paper or index cards.
– Have everyone use a the same size paper so the playing field is equal.
– Have everyone use a Sharpie so the drawings show up well on camera.
3. When time is up, have everyone hold up their drawings to their camera. We suggest holding them up one at a time so you can really focus on each person’s, um, artwork.
4. You can stop there and just enjoy the laughter, or if your team is competitive you can vote on the best and/or worst drawing and keep score.
BMPM Recommendation #2 – GO ON A SCAVENGER HUNT
One thing we’ve learned in our first 20 years of business: teams love scavenger hunts.
Maybe it’s the competition. Or that you get to be outside. Or that you’re bonding with your team while simultaneously getting in your 10,000 daily steps.
We’ve crafted a fun and slightly diabolical team scavenger experience we call THE HUNT that uses Columbus’ Arena District as the battle ground. Its a fast and furious (and sometimes sweaty) two hours, but always receives rave reviews.
While we’ve designed ours to be pretty unique, scavenger hunts can be as simple or complex — and as long or short — as you want, which makes them a perfect add-on to any meeting.
To build your own, you just need a list of items to find, questions to answer, and activities to perform (such as getting a group of strangers to form O-H-I-O). Assign a number value to each add up the scores at the end. Use phones to capture pictures of items, answers, activities. That way there’s no dispute (usually).
We’ve also found that prizes for the winning team aren’t necessary. Bragging rights are always enough.
So your team is virtual, you say? Think you can’t do a scavenger hunt with a virtual team? Think again! We designed a very simple, very fun virtual scavenger hunt that you can play during any regular ol’ videoconference.
BMPM Recommendation #3 – ICE, ICE CREAM, BABY
Walk into your next meeting with a cooler full of these and your name is guaranteed to be engraved on the Employee of the Month plaque.
While you could probably get away with any ol’ generic ice cream sandwich, we HIGHLY recommend the créme de la créme (or is it cream de la cream?) of ice cream sandwiches from our friends at Velvet Ice Cream.
Seriously, they are amazing. Like, noticeably better.
An unexpected and delicious novelty ice cream treat prevents boring meetings by instantly taking us back to childhood. You know, the time of life when we were so much more creative and fun. And calories didn’t matter.
PRO TIP: Play Ice Cream Truck music on your phone as you walk into the room. Here’s a Spotify playlist for just such an occasion.
Dream on. There’s no such thing as a virtual ice cream sandwich.
BMPM Recommendation #4 – QUESTION EVERYBODY
Ok, this recommendation isn’t as suspicious as it sounds.
One of the oldest ice-breakers in the book is asking everyone to share their answer to a common question, such as “What is your favorite vacation spot?” or “What’s your superpower?”
We prefer questions that are a little surprising and reveal things that aren’t typically revealed in a normal conversation. The answers to these kinds of questions make people supremely interesting.
There’s also something fun about having a prop or tool to help facilitate the Q&A. Here are three we really like (and use frequently):
Table Topics – This is a deck of cards with questions to “start great conversations.” There are several different versions. We like the Family version because the questions are all safe and politically correct. You know, in case you have an HR representative in the room. Check out this version on Amazon.
We! Connect Cards – This is another card deck developed by an experienced meeting facilitator. This deck includes several different suggestions for how to use the cards. The deck also includes 3 levels of cards that range from fun surface questions to some that are more intellectually and emotionally deep. Check out We Connect! Cards on Amazon.
Thumball – Someone had the idea to put icebreaker questions on a plush soccerball, and we are so glad they did. It’s called a Thumball because you toss it to someone and when they catch it, they have to answer whatever question is under their thumb. We see groups use this multiple times a day throughout potentially boring meetings. There are several versions available. Our favorites include the Get Happy At Work version, the Team Dynamics version, and the It’s All About You version.
You don’t need a card deck to shuffle or a ball to throw around. You just need a single, interesting question to kick off your next Zoom call. Here are 10 to get you started:
How many different houses/apartments have you lived in?
What is a word that bothers you when you hear it?
What is the most annoying thing your significant other (or best friend) does? (Whisper your answer if you need to).
If I gave you $50,000 and you had to spend it on something for yourself, what would that be?
If I gave you $50,000 and you had to spend it on someone else, who and what would that be?
I wish my phone had an app that could _____________.
What is something you HAVE to do that you would give up in a heartbeat?
If you had a nickname based on a strength or personality trait, what would it be?
What is the most unique or funny name in your entire family (including grandparents, cousins, etc.)?
If I canceled this meeting right now, what would you do with the next hour of your life?