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Could your meetings use a jolt of energy? It’s easier than you might think to make meetings productive, engaging, and even fun.

Draw inspiration from German-style board games to flip your meeting script. Many board games pit players against one another; these games bring players together to strategize as a group. The winning team successfully builds something together—such as a community, civilization or city. Just like German-style board games, you can infuse collaborative strategy and idea-building into your meetings.

Here are a few gamification tactics to try that can transform your meetings from stale to dynamic!

Kick things off with an icebreaker

A playful icebreaker activity serves two purposes: It instantly sets a more relaxed tone and helps everyone in the room open up, which are important ingredients for a collaborative meeting.

If this group meets regularly, kick off the agenda with a new question each time. This could be as simple as having everyone share what they did over the weekend or the last good movie they saw.

If participants don’t know each other as well, go with more outside-the-box, conversation-generating questions. Here are a few ideas:

You might be surprised to learn something interesting about one of your colleagues.

Warm up with a drawing activity

Collaborative meetings such as ideation or brainstorm sessions sometimes involve asking participants to draw, sketch and illustrate their ideas. This can be easier said than done. Though many of us enjoyed drawing pictures as children, we feel more self-conscious as adults. We’re worried our drawings will be bad or silly. But you needn’t be an advanced artist to communicate an idea through a drawing. A simple sketch will do.

To get people warmed up, do a quick, low-stakes drawing exercise. Give people 30 seconds to draw a tree. Take another 30 seconds to draw a person. Share your sketches with the group. Every sketch will look a bit different, but they will most certainly look like trees and people. Now everyone will feel more confident when they’re asked to draw later on.

Find out more about the impact of playfulness on collaboration in the workplace with our guide to incorporating children's games in the office. 

Keep everyone on their toes (and on track)

Your hopes of a collaborative meeting can crumble the moment someone starts to go off-topic and no one wants to rudely cut them off. This is where gamification can truly be your ally.

Get a visual or audible time-keeping device such as a 2-minute hourglass or even a simple kitchen egg timer. Set a time limit for how long everyone can speak. Make sure everyone is aware of the rules ahead of time so no one gets startled when time’s up. After the buzzer or timer dings, the floor is open for someone else to speak.

This will encourage people to be more mindful of everyone’s time while encouraging others to more actively participate. It will also mean your meetings will never overrun again!

Keep the ideas flowing

Brainstorming shouldn’t be a competition. No single person has “the best” idea. You want people to feel comfortable sharing their ideas and you also want to discourage those who put other people’s ideas down. Incorporating the “yes and” principle into your meetings does exactly that.

Every time someone presents an idea, the goal is to add something to it. Here’s an example: “To build upon John’s idea…” To encourage people to actually do this, you could keep a tally every time you hear those magic “to build on that idea” words.

At the end of the week, reward the person who used the principle the most with a free coffee or lunch. This gamification tactic will motivate people to more proactively build upon each other’s ideas, making your meetings more collaborative.

Continue the collaboration post-meeting

We’ve all been there. We spend an hour or two in a meeting discussing an important topic, energized by the great idea-sharing all around. Then nothing happens. No one follows up, and we’re not sure what the next steps are.

When the meeting ends, be sure to follow up with notes and action items for everyone who participated. If key team members could not attend or dialled in remotely, it’s also important to keep them in the loop with meeting notes.

Keep collaboration flowing with the Oxford Smart Flipchart and SCRIBZEE® smartphone app. Simply take notes as usual on the flipchart, then use your smartphone to scan the pages. SCRIBZEE® consolidates the pages into one high-quality PDF file to share with the entire group on the cloud. By the time people are back at their desks, the meeting notes will be in their inboxes.

Even trying one or two of these ideas can help turn your stale meetings around. Once people feel like their ideas and opinions matter, you’re well on your way to more productive and collaborative meetings.

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