Two Simple Steps To Increase Meeting Productivity

“Good humor is one of the best articles of dress one can wear in society.”

~William Makepeace Thackery

Two Simple Steps To Increase Meeting Productivity

by Loren Ekroth

Meetings can often be solemn and plodding and impersonal.

This week’s Tip is about two ways to lift the energy and expand both the enjoyment and results of a meeting.

Task:  To lift the group energy and build good will so the group can be more productive.

2 Tactics:

  1. Begin the meeting with “News and Goods,” a brief sharing of a positive life experience, achievement, how you made a difference, etc. in the time since the last meeting. About 1-2 minutes for each person. For example, successful campaigns, great new hires, innovative ideas, etc. In short, “What’s been working?” Doing this raises the positive energy in the group and makes productivity more likely.My late friend Bob Dye, former national director of the YMCA, told me that at annual meetings, he’d ask regional directors to share successes. The positive feeling triggered by these “success sessions” provided enthusiasm for the meetings ahead.
    The management practice called “Appreciative Inquiry” asks not “What are your problems?”, but “What’s working?” AI is now used in many organizations both large and small, AI helps a group harvest solutions and good ideas.In the MasterMind groups I have created, we always began with a few minutes of sharing good news.  That was a great psychological platform for the meeting and for creating future successes.
  2. Allow for and encourage appropriate humor to lighten up the meeting. As psychologist and author Jean Houston says, “At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”Humor humanizes. Levity lifts us up. Our minds become more flexible. If we can insert some self-deprecating humor or perhaps gently kid our fellow group members, we’ve created a climate for not only civility, but also humility. Then people can get off fixed positions and sincerely consider alternatives. As professional speaker and author Meryl Runion suggests (in her Speak Strong newsletter), “There’s not one right answer here. There are infinite possibilities. We need to explore several of them and find solutions and approaches that work.”
    In individual encounters, you can ask “What’s new and good?” This keeps the focus on positive feelings.  As well, you can also ask this question of your family members at the dinner table, “What was new and good for you today?”

These options can work well in many kinds of meetings, from church boards to weekly business meetings to PTA committees. Based on my experience on many committees and boards, I heartily recommend them.

From “Better Conversations” newsletter by Loren Ekroth. Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2011. All Rights reserved. Dr.  Ekroth is creator of information products to improve conversation, such as “Small Talk Success Tips” and a free newsletter at

Coaching Call To Action

Assess your meetings. Could they benefit from “News and Good” and/or humor?