Meetings are legendarily dull. And the situation only seems to compound itself when organizations make their MO: We will continue having meetings until we find out why no work is getting done.
But meetings exist for a reason and when done right, they can be extremely productive. Here are three out-of-the-ordinary questions with purpose that will help shake up your meetings.
1. What do you like about [competitor]? Which aspects are your favorite?
Wait . . . talk-up a competitor in my meeting? You betcha. Ignorance is not bliss in the business world, and the better you can appreciate your competitor’s strengths, the better you can compete. This can also help companies keep their key employees from getting poached.
2) If you won a two week vacation to Ibiza and had to leave tomorrow, what would you have to do today to make sure things moved smoothly while you were gone?
This forces people to prioritize in a fun way. It can also give you insight into how employees problem solve and which of your group’s tasks and projects they find most important. Sure you could switch out the two week vacation with a death in the family or an illness, but it’s better to stay away from the macabre.
3) If you had to speak at my 8 year old kid’s career day this afternoon, how would you describe [your group/company]?
That’s right, ELI5 (explain like I’m 5 – or in this case 8). You may not even have kids, but that just makes the question stand out more. The goal is to hear how employees perceive your company, your group, your department, etc. Because the description is targeted at kids, it forces people to condense what they understand and appreciate about the company into simple, digestible phrases. It also gives you a look into the aspects of your company that they think are the most important. Finally, it gives everybody good preparation for elevator pitches.
Sometimes the answers to these questions are not incredibly insightful on their own — the key (as with so many things in life) is to follow-up on the answers you’re given and then record what you learn. You can do this with a classic pen and paper, or you can use newer resources like the meeting software Attentiv. Whatever the method, just make sure you do it!