Who doesn’t love a meeting? Biscuits, coffee, PowerPoint presentations, hoping it’s dark enough that no one notices you yawning…

Similarly to when you have a project manager who has no emotional intelligence, dull meetings aren’t worth the flipchart they’re written on and everyone knows it. Dull meetings send your team to sleep instead of shaking them up and injecting them with new enthusiasm for whatever is ahead of them. Dull meetings may as well not have happened – especially since around a third of decisions are made after the meeting anyway.

One of the hardest project management skills is leading a successful meeting. A meeting which doesn’t over-run. A meeting which leaves the attendees glad they came. A meeting which made effective decisions that will pilot the project through the next stage and on to its eventual conclusion.

1. Get your team involved in the meeting

You may think they already are but what you’ve provided is extrinsic motivation for attending the meeting. Good meetings happen when the people there want to be there and are engaged in the reason for the meeting.

Step 1 is to find out what your team members want from the meeting and what form the meeting should take. Some teams work better with lots of very small, informal meetings taken when two or more people feel the need whereas for others a weekly, or even daily, status update involving everyone is preferred.

2. Split the organisation

Involve your team in running the meeting and they will have more of a stake in attending. That means everyone, including the project management apprentice, should have some part in the organisational side of the meeting. For example, ask a different team member to chair each successive agenda item and direct discussion on their topic.

3. Have an away day

Changing where the meeting is held can have a huge impact on stimulating discussion. Whilst actually having an away day might be a bit out of your budget you can simulate one by booking a meeting room in another part of the building, going to a local coffee shop – or even taking everyone outside if there’s a suitable space and the weather co-operates.

Not being able to nip back to your desk to grab forgotten notes and having a change of scenery allows everyone a chance to focus on the important bits without distraction.

4. Turn it into a game

Stop thinking of the people in the room as team members and think of them as players. Turn the meeting into a game to enhance their engagement.

Perhaps you could produce a version of “Buzzword Bingo” and offer a token prize to the winner. Or maybe have “levels” so that making suggestions and debating points in the meeting moves “players” up.

Almost any element of your meeting can be viewed as a game and you can tailor the game to the type of meeting you are organising. The key is to keep the game element subtle enough that the meeting is still taken seriously whilst making it obvious enough that your attendees want to participate in it.

So now, with these tips, you’ll be able to make dull meetings a thing of the past!