Making Meetings Fun, Colorful, and Engaging for Everyone

I’ve had the humble honor of leading and supporting multidisciplinary teams across the health care continuum and have learned a few things along the way. The most important thing I’ve learned is the importance of valuing each individual on your team for their unique and specific strengths they bring in accomplishing your team’s vision.

After being involved with upwards of a hundred of these teams, one common theme rings through: people want to be a part of meaningful work. Part of “being a part” is having their voices be heard. But how do you do that, while at the same time keeping the team moving in a positive and productive direction? More importantly, how do you engage the quieter people, who Susan Cain in her book Quiet: The Power of  Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking calls  a “colossal waste of talent” when we don’t.

I’ve learned some really great, simple tools to ensure everyone’s voice on the team is heard, not just your extroverts or those who can process quickly, in the moment, for a quick response. I use these tools in almost any meeting I lead, as a way to facilitate times for reflection, processing, and allowing everyone’s voice to be heard.  They capture any idea that comes up, yet at the same time allow for the flexibility to move on without losing the thought or idea so that you can come back to it later.

So what are these magical little tools?

Stickies. Otherwise known as Post-It notes. I carry these things with me to any class or meeting I am facilitating, as a way to engage the group in discussion, give them personal time to reflect in silence, process their thinking by writing a note, and then share their thoughts.

As an introvert, I LOVE this tool. Meetings for introverts are nightmares. By using a tool such as the stickies, I level the playing field between introverts and extroverts, giving everyone an equal opportunity to participate and share in a way that is comfortable. It also gives structure and ways to help facilitate the meeting to keep it moving productively.

Here’s how it works:

  • Before your meeting, think of what you want to accomplish. Do you want ideas? Do you want feedback? Plan the questions you will ask your team.
  • At the beginning of the meeting, make sure everyone has a small stack of stickies.
  • Throughout the time together, ask your question(s), and then give everyone a couple of minutes to stop and think and then jot down their thoughts.
  • Then go around the room and let everyone share their thoughts. You can even have them get up and put their stickies on a wall, or large white piece of paper. This accomplishes two things: it keeps people awake: “My turn is coming up!” and it lets them get up and move in a meeting, stimulating their brain for more engagement.

When people leave meetings or classes where I’ve used these tools they feel like they were a part of the meeting, not just a spectator. In turn, they feel more ownership. I also have a way to capture an incredible amount of ideas, thoughts, and feedback in a really simple and easy way, without one person having to rapidly keep up with taking notes.

This has revolutionized meetings for me. As a facilitator, I get to hear from everyone, even the shy, less outgoing types who have wonderful contributions buried within them.  I also have a way to keep the wanderers on track,  pulling them back to a task and easing the transition from one topic to another.

Meetings are not my favorite things to facilitate, or to attend. But these little tiny sticky notes have actually brought an element of fun back into it.  I’d encourage you to give them a try and let me know how it goes!





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