OPINION: Marketing Society - Foster creativity to get the most out of meetings

In most companies where I've consulted, having meetings has always been a source of irritation - "an excuse not to do any real work" being the typical complaint.

However, there is no getting away from the fact that they are a necessary evil. Information needs to be shared, issues need to be debated, views must be aired and decisions made. The problem is that we don't know how to hold meetings. We stop being creative - even in the creative industries.

Being creative in a meeting doesn't mean turning up wearing a comedy tie. Being creative is about developing a culture where creativity is ingrained into the organisation, so that holding a meeting becomes a natural part of the company's processes.

You might be forgiven for thinking this is impossible.

A typical response is: "Creative people are creative, I'm not." People shudder at the thought of being put on the spot and asked for an original idea.

However, given the right encouragement, environment and stimulation I've never seem anyone freeze during a creative ideas session. So trust me, creative meetings are no different; they are for everyone and for every occasion.

To have a creative meeting, you need to be in the right frame of mind and you need to be disciplined about how the meeting is run. It should be no more than 15 minutes. Everyone should be standing up - it's the only way to get people out of their comfort zone. Everyone involved has to understand what the issues are and what their role is. This discourages passivity - or conversely stops loud mouths taking over.

In an ideal world, there is one facilitator to run the meeting, one problem-owner, who owns the core issue to be resolved or debated, and two resourcers, whose expertise is recognised as a key to solving the problem or involving everyone in the meeting.

Here's my advice on how to do it: begin with a warm-up session - keep the atmosphere quick and fun. Once everyone is relaxed, define the issues of the meeting and allow no one more than a few minutes to reflect upon them.

Allow a maximum of two to three viewpoints on the subject. When facilitating a large meeting, break people up into groups to make them work harder to define the key points. Once you've got everyone back to the table, encourage them to bank their ideas rapidly.

Move around the table. Get them to write out their ideas on a whiteboard. Give them big marker pens and tiny Post-It notes, so they have to express their thoughts simply and concisely. Don't stop if you don't get a response. Speed and spontaneity are crucial.

If you are facilitating, be positive - encourage people to respond, but don't cajole and never judge someone's viewpoint or idea - let the scribe record it.

In essence, the creative meeting is about encouraging freedom and expression, but doing so in a controlled manner. You need to understand what you want to achieve from the meeting before you begin and have clearly understood roles and guidelines in order to make it worthwhile.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Samsung pities the iPhone 'wall huggers'
Smirnoff campaign aims to make Formula One less elitist
Apple wins EU battle to register store layout as trademark
Marketing directors need to step outside 'marketing box' to earn seat on the board
Hottest virals: Burger King’s emotional gay pride Whopper ad, plus Apple and Guinness
Developer creates software enabling Google Glass mind-control
Kick-ass girl beats up shopping centre staff in music video
Top 10 ads of the week: Aldi's World Cup cider ad scores with consumers
Sony relives Germany's 7-1 victory against Brazil in Subbuteo Vine
Burberry credits 9% revenue hike on strong online sales and 'more targeted marketing'
Ritz returns to UK TV screens after 30-year hiatus
Mars creates chief health and wellbeing officer role
Brands make the most of Germany's dramatic victory over Brazil
Adios Justin King! Watch our video tribute as he leaves Sainsbury's after a decade
Nike calls time on 13-year Manchester United kit deal
Three TV ad banned over misleading 'free' call claims
GNM boss David Pemsel: 'The Guardian has got its mojo back'
M&S has missed a massive opportunity to put digital strategy at its heart
Google partners with the Barbican to show coders are artists
Samaritans encourages men to talk about issues with #DownNotOut campaign
Lego's partnership with Shell 'not awesome', according to Greenpeace viral
Chevrolet launches £350m Manchester United shirt deal with nostalgic video
Warburtons rebrands to 'Warbeartons' in Paddington Bear movie tie-up
M&S blames new website as non-food sales fall again
Top 10 skills for young creative talent: The Mad Men era of on-the-job learning is long gone
Pepsi Max calls on fans to take part in Kelly Rowland video
From mutton chops to manscaping, Gillette takes a trip through 100 years of male grooming
Digital democracy creation: how the marketing industry made its voice heard
Three prints spoof apology letter to hapless holiday-less consumers
Sponsors congratulate Novak Djokovic on Wimbledon win