Every week, I scan the news for must-know stories about the employee-centric, happier, distributed, and AI-driven future of work.
Meetings are an excellent opportunity to keep your remote or hybrid team connected and jiving.
Yet, Microsoft research found that meetings rank number one among employees' key reasons to be unproductive, while too many meetings rank number three.
Why is that?
People want to spend more time on work and less time in meetings, especially if they could have been a Slack message or email.
Some great leaders make a move towards cutting down meeting time. Shopify’s Tobi Lutke recently made headlines by putting an expensive price tag on internal meetings.
At FlexOS, we’ve narrowed our meetings to less than 3 per week for most team members.
However, this doesn’t mean face-to-face or online meetings are a thing of the past.
You just need to make meetings worthwhile.
5 Reasons Why Team Meetings Are Important
No matter how much we hate them sometimes, there are many reasons why team meetings are essential.
Effective meetings increase productivity, create camaraderie, and help connect people without anyone falling behind.
Here are five reasons to have team meetings:
1. They Create a Sense of Team
Sorry to Captain Obvious… but:
Regular team meetings provide a consistent way for the team to come together. They foster a sense of unity that can cross city, state, and even country lines.
Giving people a set time to socialize boosts a team’s connection, regardless of where your team members work.
2. They Connect In-Office and Remote Team Members
Hybrid schedules sometimes create a disconnect between people working in the office and those who do not.
Team meetings are important in hybrid environments to smooth out the level of connection between people who don’t see each other in person.
3. They Allow Information Sharing
Our research shows that hybrid and remote employees want effective and clear communication.
Team meetings are essential for sharing critical information, updates, and the latest news.
You can easily post an update on Slack or the employee intranet, but let’s be honest: enthusiasm cannot be conveyed entirely with words.
Talking in person in team meetings is a great way to inform all team members and removes the opportunity for miscommunication.
4. They Foster Team Alignment
Weekly team meetings are also a forum to discuss goals, set objectives, and determine the best path to achieving them.
Team alignment is so crucial for teamwork!
People need to be aware of the team's goals and of themselves to do their best work with autonomy.
Expectations should be clear, including deadlines, potential hurdles, and areas for improvement.
Having these alignment discussions live also helps create a dialogue and opportunities for two-way conversations.
5. They Create a Platform for Support
Team meetings also provide opportunities for people to ask for help.
When we bring blockers, everyone can hear, give feedback, and provide support.
Sometimes, this can be brief, like Chris Dyer’s ‘cockroach meetings.’
Offering a platform for support develops better team dynamics and helps your people achieve more – individually and together.
Fun and Interesting Team Meeting Ideas
Now that you’re (semi-) convinced team meetings are worth the time, let’s look at our 23 innovative team meeting ideas.
1. Change Up the Location
Add excitement to your meetings by avoiding the same-day-after-day conference room or Zoom calls.
Explore new spaces to stimulate creativity and get people excited for meetings.
New locations to spice up team meetings can range from a hot new cafe in town, an inspiring coworking space, or stunning outdoor sites.
If you’re in the US, Radious may be a great way to find such a place.
A change in scenery has an impact on people socially.
Stuffy conference rooms can feel clinical and don’t offer the same comforts as meeting with the team over coffee.
Pro Tip: Arrange a carpool for off-site meetings requiring driving. Carpooling can be a great way for people to connect, help save the environment, and cut commuting costs.
Other Ideas for New Meeting Locations:
- Try out a local park
- Have lunch at a restaurant
- Check out the local library
- Meet on the go with a walking meeting
- Explore a meeting room at refreshing coworking spaces
2. Team Field Trips
Similar to our first idea, embarking on team field trips can help teams who need to form connections.
Team field trips are places where people can spend quality time together. Step away from the conference room and plan a team field trip.
Like the field trips people fondly remember from childhood, team meetings that double as a relationship-building time allow people to connect.
These opportunities help beat work-from-home loneliness and boost team collaboration.
The best part about team field trips? These off-site team meetings can be totally unrelated to work!
Consider Your Demographic: Ask yourself what your team has in common. What outing fits your group best?
A family-friendly outing, like a trip to the zoo, can connect coworkers with families.
Likewise, a trip to an arcade or bowling alley can help connect dynamic teams that aren’t afraid to let loose and have fun together.
Make It Work-Related: Venture somewhere to research competitors and see what works for other companies.
Other Fun Field Trip Ideas:
- Local beach
- Family-friendly BBQ at the park
- An art gallery
3. Run Design Sprints
Mix work with some play by adding design sprints to your regular team meetings.
Design sprints offer an opportunity for productivity. Teams need the chance to put their heads together and solve problems!
Empowerment is huge in a team environment.
With design sprints, your team will feel empowered, and the new activity will add a regular element of teamwork and productivity to your meetings.
So, how do you run them?
Design sprints can be run in a few different ways.
Traditionally, they are a 5-day process for prototyping and solving an issue.
But with teams, they can be introduced in one meeting and followed up on in the next. Highlight problems that exist and assign tasks to each employee to investigate!
Pro Tip: Try to choose issues requiring team members to work together outside the team meeting.
Try organizing people in pairs or small groups to collaborate on their portion of the design sprint.
Design sprints are one of our top recommendations for weekly team meeting ideas for teams who excel at problem-solving.
4. Hosting Guest Speakers
Featuring guest speakers is a great way to add life to your work meetings.
External experts provide new perspectives and can be helpful resources. They could be role models in the profession for people to look up to.
Guest speakers don’t necessarily need to be work-related to have positive impacts on teams, though.
Self-help speakers are fantastic resources for personal development. Personal health and well-being help people to show up for themselves and their team.
Consider speakers who offer unique takes on habit-forming and healthy living.
Think Outside the Box: Interesting topics can make meetings fun. It doesn’t matter if they seem random.
Run through your connections to find inspiring storytellers with exciting stories you and your team can learn from.
An impressive example of building community. A practical researcher on daily AI applications.
An opportunity to learn about a niche topic is always a good time.
We’ve had community experts, CEOs, founders, wellbeing coaches, and more join our team meetings – and they’ve always left us with a sense of inspiration and connection.
Where Can You Find Guest Speakers? Guest speakers can be found locally or virtually.
Places to find guest speakers include:
- Social media
- Online searches
- Networking websites
- Referrals from peers
5. Talent Shows
You may not know that Linda is an elite juggler or that Ted is a classically trained opera singer.
Hobbies are a massive part of people’s lives, but they often go unspoken about at work.
A talent show allows them to show off their hidden skills outside of work. Some coworkers may be really into the same hobby and form connections over their shared interests. You never know!
That’s how you can foster community at work.
These meeting types are best presented as a treat—something that occurs once in a while that people look forward to.
Talents can range from showing off a handmade blanket to performing a dance routine. Talk about being on the edge of your seat!
Keep In Mind: A team that knows each other is vital for team dynamics.
People comfortable with one another have an easier time asking for help and support.
You can even turn this into a team tradition to excite teams to work and bond. An annual talent show is a unique tradition that helps improve company culture.
6. Celebrating Team Wins and Incorporating Shoutouts
Gallup research shows that when team members feel valued and appreciated, they are 56% less likely to look for work elsewhere.
Recognize top achievers and helpers on the team to help show people how appreciated they are.
Regularly incorporating positive feedback into meetings makes people excited to attend their next meeting.
Creating a culture of positivity makes people want to showcase more achievements.
Recognizing team members in a public forum also provides incentives for others.
We all want to see our name up on the screen.
We all want to win that medal or frame that certificate.
Making public recognition a regular aspect of meetings can lift up the entire team.
Celebrate Group Wins: Encourage teamwork by highlighting those who have successfully worked together to achieve something in the workplace.
Pro-Tip: You might have an amazing, go-getting person on your team who consistently exceeds expectations.
But be sure to avoid favoritism and try to give everyone a dose of encouragement.
Reward little wins and big wins alike!
Shoutouts can also come with fun prizes like a coffee card or a certificate.
Alternatively, an office stuffed animal can find a new home with a stellar team member each month.
Other ideas for shoutouts and celebration prizes include:
- A team trophy
- Shoutout on company social media or blog
- VIP parking spot
7. Themed Days
Costumes, food, and decor can reimagine a conference room. Adding a theme to your meetings is an awesome way to add some fun!
If you know your team loves parties, themed meeting days can turn every meeting into a party.
Then, with the play part out of the way, the team can sit down and get to work.
Another automatic bonus—themed meetings are a great opportunity to encourage people to interact outside meeting time.
Food-themed meetings can be collaborative, and decorations can be handmade or put together beforehand.
You can also make your themed days an interactive process!
Try creating a list of themes and having people vote on which theme they want to try next.
Jazz It Up: Celebrate fun, random holidays during your meetings.
For example, October 14th is National Dessert Day, where you can encourage your team to bring in desserts to share.
Virtual meetings can also be themed. For a virtual themed meeting, you can:
- Remind people to change their background to a themed image.
- Dress up in costume or with a fun accessory.
- Ask them to prepare a snack that is on the theme.
8. Colleague-led Workshops
If you’re spending a lot of time at the helm of meetings, letting others take the reins can be a nice change of pace.
Give people a chance to show off their professional skills and share their wealth with the rest of the team.
Colleague-led workshops are also a great way to provide recognition for those who are adept at certain work elements.
If you have an Excel wizard on your team, kick off a team masterclass to level up the whole team!
Allow people to sign up independently to avoid putting pressure on those with high workloads or upcoming deadlines.
Also, consider asking your team members what topics they would like to learn more about or what is necessary for everyone’s daily work.
Lead By Example: As a manager, you can directly inspire your team.
Consider leading the first colleague-led workshop and sharing some wisdom on a topic with your team.
9. Stretch Breaks
In the words of the great Taylor Swift, “Shake It Off!”
Desk jobs don’t leave people with much opportunity to move their bodies, nor do typical meetings.
Too much sitting can be harmful to your health.
Try incorporating short physical activities like stretching or meditating to re-energize team members.
You could also encourage people to stand when speaking to get their blood moving throughout the meeting.
Give it a try, and you can see how interesting it is! The conversation becomes lively and engaging with facial expressions and body language.
Make It Fun: There are plenty of follow-along stretch routine videos online that are silly and can get people laughing while moving their bodies.
Play some music and let your team get their bodies loose at the end of the meeting to wake up and take charge of the rest of the day.
Or Keep It Simple: Adding a stretch break to your team meetings could be as simple as reminding people to stretch for a minute at the end of the meeting!
Great Meeting Ideas for Remote Teams
1. Show and Tell
Show and Tell isn’t just an activity for kindergarten. It works great for adults, too!
Gain an understanding of each other's work product by adding show and tell to regular meetings.
Frequent displays of work products help people to understand what other team members are working on.
Show and Tell also allows your team to look for ideas or suggestions about what they are working on to improve.
Those displaying their work can ask others what works and doesn’t work about their project.
You can incorporate show and tell into team meetings as a separate or segment to allow people to show off their work from the week quickly!
Why This Works For Remote Teams: Showing off work products is a natural part of in-office communication.
However, remote teams don’t often get to see what others are working on unless the team is meeting.
Show and tell is a built-in way to keep teams on the same page.
Screenshare so everyone can see what people have been working on!
Add a Social Element to Show and Tell: Allow people to share one element of personal news and one element of professional news to foster connection between team members.
Think about “Anything interesting in your life the past week?”
2. Rapid Ideation
Brain games are perfect for remote teams. One of our favorite brain games is rapid ideation.
With rapid ideation, your team can brainstorm as many ideas as possible on a topic in a set time.
Let the creativity flow!
People can play with work-related topics or with random topics. These topics can range from thinking up creative new product features or the craziest ideas to selling handmade soaps.
Bounce ideas off one another to come up with the best strategies.
Spice It Up: Depending on the size of your team, you can break off into smaller groups or pairs to generate more ideas during this activity.
How to Set Up a Rapid Ideation Activity:
- Have each team member acquire a pad of sticky notes and a pen.
- Set a timer for 2-5 minutes and instruct people to write one idea per sticky note.
- Assemble all ideas and have team members present their two favorite ideas.
- Host a brief discussion period, asking team members to defend their ideas.
- Instruct people to silently rank each idea.
- Continue to do rapid ideation in rounds until the team agrees on one idea.
- If the team struggles to come to a resolution, open up the floor for discussion.
3. Share Music and Memes
Give your team the space to bond over humor and cultural interests by sharing memes or music.
Everyone loves memes, so why not add some to your meetings?
AI meme generators can create work or project-related funny images to lighten spirits and kick off discussions.
Music also makes a perfect addition to be shared in virtual happy hour spaces.
Consider planning an after-hours social hour and compile a playlist of submitted songs from your team members.
With your playlist, you can add music to virtual meeting platforms through computer audio settings as background sound to your scheduled social time.
Keep In Mind: Separate the humor and non-work-related talk from the serious conversations.
Consider allowing people to submit memes before the meeting to avoid clogging up team communication channels.
Collect Music with a Theme: For a more cohesive playlist, consider asking people for music that adheres to a theme.
Ask them to send you their favorite 80s songs, for example!
4. Role Reversal
There’s a reason why role reversal is a popular couple’s technique. It’s amazing for teamwork!
Role reversal is a fun way to build the team and helps people understand what other roles do throughout the day.
It’s a way of helping others to gain empathy by simulating other roles in the team.
Allow team members to answer questions or make suggestions as if they were in their peer’s role.
Guide the discussion by asking questions like:
- What are your daily job duties?
- What team members do you interact with most?
- What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
- What is your favorite aspect of your role?
See if the person gets the answers correct for the role they were supposed to be embodying.
You can get started with team members with similar skill sets. For example, let social marketing and website content people swap roles.
They will bring in more perspectives from their work experience and out-of-the-box ideas.
Meeting Role Reverse: This concept works well with only meeting role swapping. Let someone else be in charge of facilitating the meeting and the other one write meeting notes.
You may all learn something new about each other!
Starting meetings the same way each time can get boring. Sometimes, changing the simplest part of meetings can make all the difference!
Shake off the social rust with fun icebreakers.
Humanize interactions with friendly introductions and unique icebreakers that get everyone social from the very beginning of the meeting.
Fun Team Meeting Icebreaker Ideas:
- Use a generator for new icebreaker questions to keep them fresh constantly.
- Try “Question of the Day”
- Play two truths and a lie about your weekend
- Ask trivia questions
- Play a game like Skribbl or Telephone
- Use virtual workspaces
6. Synchronized Collaboration
Meeting to work together? That sounds insane. But it works sometimes!
Most remote collaboration tools allow teams to open joint online documents and collaborate in real-time.
You can assign team members to different tasks for group work to encourage teamwork.
Bonus Tip: Some managers enjoy the practice of body doubling, which can make remote workers feel less alone and stay on task. Consider a meeting that gathers your team while people independently work toward a shared goal.
The team can then take breaks together and ask questions to clarify the group’s direction and help one another to complete tasks.
Innovative Ideas for Project Meetings
1. Rip The Script
While working on projects, it can be easy to get tunnel vision. We all want to think we’re right!
Really, it’s natural to think that the direction you are working in is the right direction without any other feedback.
Rip the Script is a fun way to challenge assumptions by reversing perspectives.
You can introduce this fun meeting activity by asking people to argue against their own position. They are encouraged to take on roles and argue for positions opposite to what they typically believe or advocate for.
If issues are highlighted, this gives the team a great opportunity to consider a different direction.
There are no wrong answers in team project work, so long as the team has a positive outcome and completes the goal.
Pro-Tip: Play an active role in this discussion as a manager. People may need help finding flaws in their own ideas.
Encouraging the team to poke holes in their work is important.
Consider why someone may want to avoid buying the product or why the plan might be ineffective.
You can model this exercise for the group with your own project to get the best results!
2. Shark Tank
We can’t all be Mr. Wonderful or Mark Cuban, but we can embody the ‘Shark Tank’ spirit in the workplace.
Shark Tank is an awesome game that allows people to pitch bold ideas and get candid feedback from their peers.
This exercise can be a great tool to practice pitching ideas. It’s also especially useful when a team starts a new project.
For those unfamiliar with the show, on ‘Shark Tank,’ people present their ideas to a group of ruthless businesspeople (The Sharks).
After the pitch, the Sharks ask intense questions to test the strength of the idea.
Try It Out: In your meeting, allow a team member to present their idea while the rest of the team compiles a list of questions to ask.
Then, once the pitch is complete, open the forum to allow the panel of team members to ask challenging questions.
Pro-Tip for Maximum Fun: Join this meeting idea with a Shark Tank-themed meeting featuring costumes, themed Zoom or Teams backdrops, and snacks.
For large groups, consider dividing into smaller groups of four or five.
Improve on Ideas: Rather than just challenging ideas, the panel can also offer suggestions to improve the pitched idea.
Adding this element helps to boost the productivity of this activity.
3. Reverse Brainstorming
Reverse brainstorming is a fun exercise when bumping into a big problem.
Teams always encounter problems but may fall into patterns when solving them.
Encourage your team to solve problems differently by starting with the worst ideas to spur creativity.
This idea should be something that definitely will not work.
An easy way to start this activity is to start with the problem you want to solve.
Let’s model this activity with an example:
Problem: Your team needs to sell more candy bars.
Reverse Brainstorming: Your team needs to sell fewer candy bars.
List out how you can sell fewer candy bars, build up from those ideas, and use them as inspiration to find solutions to sell more candy bars.
Some reverse ideas could be advertising that the candy bars are poisonous or bad for your health.
Another reverse idea could be to raise the price of the candy bars to an unaffordable price.
From these ideas, some possible outcomes from reverse brainstorming are to:
- advertise the health aspects of the candy bars
- consider raising the price of the candy bars to suggest they are a luxury product
Rose-bud-thorn is a great way to reflect on a project's positives, negatives, and improvements.
The great thing about rose-bud-thorn is that you can use at all project stages to ensure your team is on the right path.
Instruct team members to note down positives, negatives, and improvements they would make to the project.
These are otherwise known as rose (positive and strengths), bud (improvements and opportunities to grow), and thorn (negatives and mistakes).
You can use sticky notes and tape on the board for in-person meetings or try this template for virtual meetings.
Then, host a roundtable discussion.
People can offer up all of their perspectives in one go, or the whole team could start with the positives and then move on to the negatives.
Consider what has worked so far and what hasn’t worked. Also, note down if your team has varying perspectives on what worked and what didn’t.
These topics are great to revisit as a team.
Why does the team have conflicting views on what aspects of the project went well and which ones did not?
When a team can reflect in a cohesive way, you can see great growth potential from the reflection activity. So, finding a shared viewpoint is a good goal!
5. Fast Status Updates
Status update meetings are notorious for being somewhat repetitive. They might be everyone’s least favorite meeting type.
The format of these meetings also makes easy targets for people who tend to drone on or groups who easily get off topic.
Try status update, but in…sprint race! This way, everyone is on the same page, but status updates don’t waste the meeting time.
And you can save the rest of the time for future progress.
How To Manage the Meeting Floor Effectively with Fast Status Updates:
- Don’t be afraid to set a timer! Give each person the same amount of time to update.
- Ask specific questions about status.
- Have a predetermined sharing order to avoid wasting time figuring out who is sharing next.
- Use a set agenda with a clear meeting purpose to keep people on task.
- Redirect conversation when appropriate.
Pro-Tip: Be sure to make use of the extra time your team will have with fast status updates!
Don’t simply shorten the meeting; use the time to make meaningful progress as a team.
6. Fishbowl Discussions
Don’t tap on the glass! A fishbowl exercise puts a small group at the forefront of the meeting while the rest of the team observes.
This exercise aims to practice listening and brainstorming while listening to others speak.
Those who are in the fishbowl discuss a relevant topic to the project while others think about the discussion.
Instead of interacting in the discussion, they simply take notes on their thoughts and sit back.
Any of the fun activities on our list can be used in a fishbowl setting.
Your team can practice the Shark Tank activity or Rose-bud-thorn and allow people to generate new perspectives from the outside looking in.
After the initial discussion concludes, provide an open forum for the observers to provide input on the discussion. Guide the discussion with questions such as:
- What did you agree with from the discussion?
- What did you disagree with?
- Was there a moment where you wanted to interject in the fishbowl discussion? If so, when?
What Types of Teams Are Fishbowls Best For?
- Large groups
- Groups who have a tendency to speak over one another
- Teams struggling to come up with a solution for something
7. Rapid Prototyping
Rapid prototyping is a fun and interactive way to quickly mock up solutions for evaluation.
This term is commonly used in tech and 3D printing settings as a way to create options for solutions and get feedback.
However, rapid prototyping’s methodology can also be used in meetings to effectively problem solve as a team.
Prototyping involves noting down the bare bones of a design or idea to get input on it. If your idea is a person, prototyping is the bones!
How To Do Rapid Prototyping as a Team:
- In a meeting, instruct people to list out their ideas for the project.
- Set a timer, and allow each person quiet work time to jot down their solution.
- Once complete, note down each idea in a place where people can see the list.
- Address each person’s idea and discuss why the solution may or may not work for the team.
- Arrange the ideas in order from bad ideas to better ideas.
- Then, allow people to develop new options to improve on old ideas but discard bad ideas as your team is comfortable with doing so.
8. Host an “Us in the Future” Workshop
Finally, for project-based teams, hosting an “Us in the Future” workshop is a wonderful way to inspire people.
Change is slow, but looking to the future and setting goals is the way to see progress.
When hosting your “Us in the Future” workshop, set meeting time aside to allow your team to envision future scenarios for the team.
Set goals, such as a 5-year goal or a 2-year goal, to encourage people to stay in a growth mindset.
Another fun activity to include in your workshop is to make mock news headlines of company and group successes in the future. Be creative and ambitious!
You could also try out roleplaying how the team would interact with each other 5 years in the future. Where will you all be?
Key Elements of an “Us in the Future” Workshop:
- Collecting ideas for future outcomes
- Presenting the ideas in a way that inspires
- Engaging people in their ideas
- Reward ambitiousness
- Turn extraordinary ideas into team goals
Expert Manager Tip: Generate some hype around this meeting! People can get nervous when expected to roleplay or think about the future.
Be sure to portray this workshop as a fun activity from when it is announced to alleviate nerves and prepare people to show up excited!
Wrapping It Up
Energizing and engaging people in meetings helps teams thrive.
Keeping meetings fresh, new, and exciting pushes teams to develop personally and professionally for improved outcomes.
I hope these team meeting topics and ideas will help you ignite passion in your team for forward progress.
Let’s make our meetings fun and effective!
Every week, I scan the news for must-know stories about the employee-centric, happier, distributed, and AI-driven future of work.