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Written by Jasmine Cargill
on March 24, 2016
Do you find it hard to imagine what a four-year-old can teach you about good meetings? We don’t expect you to take our advice literally and turn your office into a kindergarten. Nevertheless, we have found a few useful situations from the playground that can be applied to the office.

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It’s easy to dismiss creativity, curiosity, breaks and movement as “nice to haves” or distractions from the “real work” of a meeting. In fact, they are essential elements for enhancing focus, effectiveness and productivity. They also contribute to happier and more satisfied employees.

You don’t have to install a sand pit or jungle gym in your office. But then again, it could be fun! Read on to find out what you can learn from a four-year-old about good meeting culture. 


 

Be curious

How did you do that? What’s it called? How did that happen? Why?

Children ask a lot of questions. Why?! Because they are always learning and making sense of the world. It’s all too common for adults to lose the childlike quality of curiosity but it has a lot to offer the workplace. Fostering a culture of open and creative questions in your meetings enhances learning and knowledge sharing in your organization. It also develops relationships between colleagues.

Where possible, make space for curiosity by including question-time in your meetings. Giving participants the opportunity to ask about each other’s work and projects builds relationships and potential for collaboration. If questions come up that aren’t relevant for the everyone or there isn’t enough time to go into detail, suggest that it’s taken after the meeting or over lunch.

 

Make friends

Just as it was important to have friends in kindergarten, it’s important in the workplace. Collaboration is a buzz word these days for good reason. Good relationships and the ability to cooperate are essential for productivity and high quality outputs. Encourage your meeting participants to get to know each other on a professional level. Get them to share what they are working on and finding synergies. 


Get creative

If you want your meeting participants to think more creatively, take some inspiration from a kindergarten. Depending on your kind of organization, it might be better to leave glitter and face painting for outside of work time but creative approaches to your meetings can enhance fresh thinking and engagement.

This can be as simple bringing colored pens and pencils for brainstorming or giving the opportunity to “doodle” while listening to a presentation - many people actually think better this way. You could bring in LEGO or modelling clay or try some methods of creative facilitation. You might be surprised at the results.

 

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It's ok to wriggle

It’s not only four-year-olds who find it hard to sit still for a long time. Most adults also lose the ability to focus after sitting for a while, usually more than 30 minutes. Your colleagues will probably not start wriggling in their seats, but their ability to focus will decline as the minutes tick by. For many people  movement actually helps them take in information.

Read our blog post about how to host a walking meeting

 
Include micro-breaks for stretching or get people to get up and swap places around the table. Longer meetings need longer breaks. This is not just “nice to have”, it’s the only way to ensure focus and productivity.

It’s good to remember that adults need healthy snacks to keep up their energy and fuel brain power, just like four-year-olds do.


Behave yourself

How many four-year-olds do you see checking their phones or sending emails while engaging in the company of their peers? None. That’s right.

 


 

FirstAgenda

Smarter meetings? Yes please!

If you liked this article from FirstAgenda, you’re probably on a mission to having more effective meetings – just like us! You might want to try our platform. It’s a simple tool that handles note taking for you, so you can be present and engaged in your meeting. Read more

 

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