Organizations hold more than 3 billion meetings each year. Executives spend nearly half of their time at work in meetings. While meetings can be instrumental in helping an organization make informed decisions and improve collaboration, they can also be a waste of time if you don’t plan them thoughtfully.
A great way to breathe new life into your meetings is by applying design thinking. Design thinking is a concept that originated at Stanford’s d.school and was popularized by the founder of IDEO, David Kelly. The design thinking methodology is typically used to create innovative products and services as well as solve complex problems. It is an ideation method used by designers but it can also be applied to other areas.
By applying design thinking to meetings and events, you can create more effective, relevant, and enjoyable meetings that are designed to meet the needs of attendees. The outcome is an engaging, productive meeting that achieves the meeting organizer’s goals while empathizing with the audience’s needs.
When using design thinking to improve your meetings, start by putting your own agenda to the side. Focus on the people who will be attending your meeting, as well as those who will be affected by the meeting, even if they don’t attend. The following are some questions you can ask yourself.
1. Who are the attendees of the meeting and what are their needs?
2. Who is not attending the meeting but will be affected by the outcome of the meeting?
3. What is your company culture? What are some of the challenges and opportunities you may have?
Seek out the attendees of the meeting. Talk to them in person or on a video call individually to check in, build trust, and uncover issues. This will help provide ideas on what works, what doesn’t work, and what could be improved.
Make sure every meeting you hold has a clear purpose. A lot of times, we have meetings just because they are on the calendar and we don’t put a lot of thought into exactly what we want to achieve. By setting a clear purpose for your meetings and articulating the desired outcomes, you will be able to have more successful meetings.
When designing your next meeting, follow the 5 steps of design thinking:
The key to design thinking is understanding the problem from the human perspective and designing with the human experience in mind. When using design thinking to plan meetings, be willing to let go of traditional meeting practices.
Think about what your goals for the meeting are and how you want to get there. Test out your ideas by putting together a draft agenda and getting feedback from attendees. This immerses attendees in the purpose of your meeting and makes them feel more engaged.
You might have to invest some time upfront to apply design thinking to your meeting planning process, but it will pay off quickly in the form of more productive and enjoyable meetings.
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