How Do You Plan? 5 Strategies to Increase Meeting Productivity


It’s only week two in the new year and meetings are already taking over our calendars as planning session after planning session is scheduled. With so many meetings in a row, it can start to feel like an episode of The Office where you’re caught in a Michael Scott meeting with no escape (or end) in sight.


Not the best way to kick off a new year.

Don’t worry—we aren’t about to leave you stranded on planning island (that’s not our style). After months of testing and being caught in a cycle of meeting fatigue ourselves, we’ve come up with five suggestions to increase productivity (and spark new life) into your next planning session.

  1. Get Out: Sometimes the best way to think outside of the box is with a change of scenery. Rent a meeting space nearby your office, get a day pass to a local WeWork, or break up your meeting with a trip to a local coffee shop (for non-data sensitive meetings only!). Is it a nice day? Why not move to a nearby park? It can be easy to become sedentary and push through the day without taking a lunch or even a stretching break, however moving around and getting some fresh air can be beneficial!
  1. Go Big: Ideas need to start somewhere, so why not start big? What would your ideas look like if budget, time, and team capacity didn’t matter? Once you have a list of your top 10 wild, non-restricted ideas, start thinking of how you could implement them with the tools, budget, and people you do have. It’s okay if your ideas shrink in scale but remember to keep the general passion behind them.
  1. Try Improv: Have you heard of improvisational (improv) theater’s “Yes and” rule? It is one of the basic (but hard to follow) rules where actors in scenes have to be open to all ideas. For instance, if your partner says, “I’m a dog,” negating that by saying, “No, you’re not” stops all forward momentum in the scene. However, if you said, “Yes and I’m a cat,” it continues the scene and improves on the original idea, creating a foundation for further interaction and story.
    Why not include that rule in your next planning session? Rather than shooting down ideas (which most of us are guilty of), try help evolve the idea. If a co-worker says, “I think we should send glitter in envelopes to our favorite customers,” rather than saying, “That’s silly” and shutting them down, try “Yes, that’s a great idea to celebrate our customers. What if we send…” you are retaining the basic core of the idea and helping to develop a less messy gift without marginalizing your co-worker.
  1. Work Backward: Sometimes our idea generator is out of order (hello, Friday afternoons—we’re looking at you), but that doesn’t mean a good planning session can’t take place. If ideas aren’t flowing, stay focused in the meeting by starting with what you want the end result to be—a firm data point all can agree on—and work backward to figure out the best way to get there.
  1. Work Together: Having a team planning session? Try including (either during or after) a few other key members from other teams that you work closely with. If everyone starts on the same page, there is nowhere to go but up. If both teams have the same goal on their roadmaps, this provides an opportunity to create even better results than either team could have achieved separately. After all, teamwork does make the dream work!

Let’s make our meetings this year more productive and more fun. We want to hear from you—what are some inventive methods you have tried to keep your meetings lively and on track? Share them in the comments below!