How to have more collaboration meetings


“I don’t think this meeting will last that long,” Your partner says If you’ve ever heard this phrase, you can bet that two things are true:

  1. The meeting will take up the entire allotted time.
  2. The meeting accomplishes nothing.

This is a common experience. In fact, according to my team’s research, more than a third of us spend more than 20 hours a week in dreaded meetings. This is a problem. Even worse, many of us don’t know how to make our meetings better.

Instead of sharing information, make meetings collaborative

The problem with meetings is not just the number, but also the type of meeting we usually attend. When not facilitated with a preconceived goal, meetings become nothing more than a forum for sharing information that could have been communicated in a more effective, asynchronous manner.

Not that all hope is lost when it comes to meetings. Meetings can be transformative when they move from a style of information sharing and slides to a deliberate style of collaboration.

Meeting together…

  1. Help build a team mentality. When you ask people to contribute, individuals feel like they are contributing to something bigger than themselves, which improves job satisfaction and employee retention.
  2. Build psychological safety. With Collaboration, team members feel comfortable speaking and giving feedback.
  3. leads to better results. When different perspectives are shared freely, more inspired solutions emerge. In fact, a McKinsey study found that diversity of ideas leads to a 35% increase in creativity.
  4. Save time Getting more intent makes for more efficient engagement.

4 ways to make your meetings more collaborative

I spend my days working with clients to improve the way their teams work together. I share some principles with her to take her team meeting to the next level.

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Spend time on your meeting agenda. Be conscious of your time and your meeting agenda. List agenda items as questions, not general topics, and encourage participants to be prepared. This gives introverts a chance to process information outside the pressures of a loud social environment. Enlist allies (such as extroverted supervisors) to lead by example and hold them accountable to make room for your external and introverted counterparts to contribute.

Get people talking with *purposeful* icebreakers. Just as you wouldn’t start a race without warming up first, don’t start pushing a team into deep work without stretching the supporting muscles first. A deliberate ice breaker can dissipate any tension in the room before getting to the point and kick-starting the rest of the discussion. That said, it’s important to choose an icebreaker that serves a purpose that fits well with the purpose of the meeting. For example:

  • Who was your first mentor and what qualities made them good (or bad)? Goal: Reinforce the idea that trusting each other is part of development – ​​Suitable for projects or teams with many dependencies.
  • What is your superhero’s name? Goal: Practice packing a lot of information into a single, thought-provoking word or phrase.
  • What would be the title of your autobiography? Objective: Prepare for team activities such as drafting a vision statement.

Give your meetings more freedom with free-flowing structures. Liberating Structures offers alternative structures to facilitate encounters and conversations, curated by Henry Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless. One of my favorite structures for moving from icebreaker to brainstorming is called 1-2-4-All. The sequence is: think about something (a question, a topic, an idea) individually in silence for one minute, then discuss in pairs for two minutes, then another for four minutes, and then Come together as a whole group and cherry- choose a few highlights from each of the four to share with the whole group.

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Never forget where you are. If I’m facilitating an in-person meeting, I get to the room early to finalize seating. When tables shift, I always opt for a horseshoe so team members can look each other in the eye while working together. But what about in a hybrid or virtual setting? Experiment with a tool like Velo that can create a custom workspace where distributed team members can come together and collaborate.

let’s meet

Now open your calendar and identify a meeting that might be more collaborative – I bet several will spring to mind. Try one of these techniques and watch the magic of a more collaborative meeting happen.

Mark Kruth Atlassian’s Resident Modern Work expert. Mark focuses more on practice than theory and spends his days coaching teams in new ways of doing things.




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