Meeting Of Minds, Not Mindless Meeting
Many brainstorming sessions and meetings follow the form but not the function. You have the flip charts, coloured pens, post-it notes, tea, coffee, and buffet lunch, but where is the collective buzz? Where is the startling exchange of insights?
Redeem the situation with the help of the following tips:
Don't let the chairperson run the discussion
Authority lends disproportionate weight to a person’s opinions and encourages many to speak too much, and with too much certainty. The bigger the meeting, or the more important, the greater benefit will come from using a virtuoso facilitator.
Danger of monologues
People who talk most can block others from sharing their ideas. They forget what they were going to say or just never get the time to say it. This reduces the number of ideas that people can discuss. And allows many to do nothing, contribute nothing, and usually not even think about the problem.
Getting people to prepare ideas
Not so that they all take turns to present the ideas – this is deathly dull and ineffective – but so that the people attending have done some thinking. It runs counter to many people's preconceptions but brainstorming is not the objective, it's just a technique.
Engage people with problem solving
Most people get tired very quickly. They start coping instead of contributing. If they get bored, they start to play political games or politely disengage. So keep people alert, involved, and aware that the meeting has no fixed shape and that their involvement counts and will be noticed.
Make contributions significant
You need a way of structuring and recording what the group contributes, So that it doesn't get lost and people can see what they have said. It avoids repetition, and allows the group to build idea upon idea, climbing insight upon insight.
Get the knowledge and power in the room
Keep an eye on what supporting information is helpful, what is missing and what is irrelevant. If subjects are put on hold because the right people, authority, facts, or figures are not in the room, then make sure your cast and props are different for the next meeting.
If you are going to spend time and money on getting colleagues and customers together then get it right. There's no such thing as a free meeting, so try to make the best use of the time.