Effective Creative Meetings

I’ll admit it, I’m a result-getter, and the nature of what I do requires that I look at the process at which it’s done, else I forego any sort of creativity, which would be counterproductive to my job description.

Here’s where I struggle; how do we get from point A to point B in the most creative way we can think of, and how can we do it in an effective way?

While it may seem odd or foreign to most, I love meetings. A lot. I typically analyze the people I’m meeting with and sift through information rather quickly to draw out some of their creative thoughts that they may be trying to put in non-creative terms. You know what’s really hard to do? Self analyze. That’s why it’s truly important to gather around a group of people with the same end goal, but different personalities, backgrounds, thinking styles.

But that being said, it’s important to capitalize on the importance of knowing what everyone’s end goal is. This is why it’s frustrating when trying to attain an effective web strategy when you’re talking to your ministers; ultimately, all they want is for people to find their ministry on the website as fast as possible, and others involved want an effective website that has a clean, user-friendly design and full of content that will bring the user back.

This is a situation I’ve honestly been struggling with lately. In the church world, it’s often not easy to find like goaled people because God has created everyone for a very specific purpose. Meetings are important to help get everyone on the same page, and you have to do that before you can have an effective meeting.

Here are a few ideas on how to maximize creativity in meetings:

1. Be flexibly prepared 
It’s important to know what you’re going in to achieve, but it’s also important to recognize that God is going to be at work actively in your meeting, and you can’t stifle God with simple “Yes” and “No” answers. Know the end-goal, but don’t be surprised if you end up on a tangent. Tangents are really important to creativity, and I truly believe that creativity oozes out of tangents, because if we’re open and active to the conversation, we may find the answer in simply a round-about way. If you’re leading the meeting, ask guiding(not leading) questions, and don’t force answers, but rather encourage healthy discussion, and that means everyone shouldn’t be in agreement.

2. Play Devil’s Advocate–Judiciously
One of the best ways to work out the nitty-gritty details of your ideas is to work through the pros and cons of each idea. Each idea may be drastically different or strikingly similar, so it’s important to narrow down the ideas by looking at the consequences of each. If you’re leading the meeting, you must  be careful with this one, otherwise you’ll look like you’re shooting down every idea. Part of what makes politics so popular is that there are people who see valid and invalid points to each side, and you have to be Switzerland. Don’t take sides, and that means don’t necessarily take the favorable side, even of your own idea. When you initiate this kind of conversation, you open the floor to debate, which is seriously important to creativity.

3. Be drastic

Set the playing field from the get-go. Something I feel a lot of leaders take for granted is setting standards. In a meeting, personify the kind of creativity you want by giving an example/idea of something as drastic as you’re looking for. When your team understands the kind of material you want, you’re likely to spend your time more wisely. When you’re drastic, you give permission for your team to release their more wilder ideas and not feel like a black sheep. As a leader, you’ll also inspire them to think on that playing field.

4. Be ready to take action

The most annoying thing I have found a leader can do is take inaction after a meeting. When you narrow down your options, you’ve got to be the one who  keeps the spirit of the meeting alive outside the conference room. Send an email, do a quick shout-out, and be the first to take action. Don’t be a player, either– Take action immediately. Show your team you’ve got initiative and you care about the hour you just spent with them, or you’ll lose passion faster than you can say “creativity”. Don’t short yourself of that passion in your organization, keep it alive by honoring the time you spend with them.