It’s time to start thinking outside the meeting. Even if you are having your meeting outside, I would encourage you to think even more outside than outside.
In fact, I’d encourage you to think outside the outside in your next outside meeting to really get outside the meeting that’s being held outside.
Does this make sense?
Let me explain why.
Meetings have become so yesterday. (And not just because I was at a meeting yesterday, although, frankly, that could be a large part of it.)
Let’s face it, meetings have been going downhill ever since Adam met Eve (and we all know how that went). At the very least, meetings have become mundane. Like Elton John or Stephen Harper, too many meetings have gone mainstream. Too many meetings have lost their edge, their flair, their “je ne sais meeting”.
Think about it. When was the last time you were at a meeting that made you want to leap up onto the nearest table, pound your fists like Tarzan and scream out, “I LOVE this meeting and I love you, my fellow meeting goers, more than I love life itself!”? If you were being honest right now, you’d probably admit it’s been awhile.
Or when was the last time you Tweeted that you were excited about going to a meeting? (Okay, bad example. If you Tweeted anything then chances are you were darned excited about experiencing actual human contact in any form.)
But you get my point. Like a post-fourth season episode of Two and a Half Men, meetings have become too predictable: everyone lines up like cattle (albeit, well-dressed cattle) to get their name tags; there’s an opening ceremony involving flags, anthems and a couple of dueling monkeys on unicycles; Chuck, the well-natured, microphone-challenged emcee stands behind the lectern and jokes about not wearing any pants; the opening keynote speaker brings everyone to tears only to bring everyone to uproarious laughter only to bring everyone to the back of the room to flog their many books, DVDs and personalized cheese graters.
The other reason to think outside the meeting is that demographics are rapidly changing in a dramatically rapid way that can only be described as dramatic. So dramatically that some speakers can’t switch their topics to speaking about the generation gaps fast enough to keep up!
I mean we’ve got the zoomers backing into the boomers who are crushing the gen-exers who are squeezing out the nexters who are having to adapt to the sandwich generation who is in danger of being overtaken by the vegans who aren’t sure what the flounders are doing and no one knows who those guys are sitting at table 37. I mean seriously, who let them in?
We also need to contend with the increase in visible minorities, invisible minorities, minorities that used to be invisible but now seem really obvious, minorities that have overtaken the majority hence making the whole minority label rather obsolete, minorities within the minority segments, the minority of the majority of minorities… plus those guys at table 37. (Like, really, who do they work for? Are they HR?)
Superimposed on all this change is the technological change which is changing things so rapidly, that soon technology will make even technology obsolete.
So what can we, in the meeting business do?
Sure, we could hide behind our name tags or move to table 37, but really, what would that accomplish?
Clearly we need a meeting revolution. We need to break not only the ice at meetings, but the mold in which the ice was created. We need to boldly go where meetings have never gone before.
That’s right. I’m talking name tags that glow in the dark. I’m talking dueling monkeys that also juggle. I’m talking about emcees who don’t just joke about taking their pants off –they actually do it! I’m talking about keynote speakers who engage all audience members not only through their witty, multi-demographic banter but with their amazing technology that makes everyone forget about the speaker’s message because by the time the speaker says it it’s already outdated anyways so let’s not kid ourselves.
I’m also talking about challenging our basic assumptions about meetings. Like do we really need to feed people? Who says we have to have washrooms readily available? In fact, do we even need attendees to make a meeting successful? I mean, come on, aren’t the meeting attendees the ones most likely to complain about your meetings in the first place?
To recap: I’m simply talking about thinking outside your meeting.
Which, if you’re in a boring meeting right now, there’s a good chance you are doing anyway.
Michael Kerr is an international business speaker, very funny motivational speaker, business trainer and the author of six books including, The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank. www.mikekerr.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
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