Yesterday our team gathered for lunch at our place. As a re-plant, I’m the only member of the staff who is full-time at the church, so we flow on a meeting schedule that allows for a good mix of communication and connection without burning everyone out with extra meetings. Each time we gather, it’s my chance to invest, to get input, and for us to move the ball forward in multiple areas.
But when time is limited, there are some creative ways you can multi-task in a meeting that aren’t going to bring anyone down. Here’s a few simple steps in how it works for us:
1. Know your goals. Multi-tasking just to multi-task generally doesn’t speed anything up. In fact, studies show it will slow you down. So if the two areas you want to combine aren’t very closely related in their goals, you need to reconsider your plan of action. For us, both “tasks” were about communication.
- I want to encourage and coach each member of our team in their public communication skills. One of the best tools I learned in high school speech was what “a couple of minutes” FEELS like for a speaker. The ability to internalize one minute, two minutes, or five, is something every speaker should cultivate.
- I also want everyone to share some wins or insights from their last week so we can celebrate and learn together.
2. Make it fun. If you’re going to multi-task in a meeting, it can’t feel stressful.
- We decided to go around the circle and have each person share for two minutes anything from their week that was positive. A win, an experience, a lesson from God – their choice. But they ONLY had two minutes. The time was set up as a fun challenge, seeing how much we could each share that was cohesive and clear.
- I set a timer on my phone that showed everyone their time limit. At the end, the “alarm” was a duck quacking. Yes, a duck. While it’s easy for a typical alarm noise to go off and people have a subconscious stress response, I don’t know anyone who gets anxiety from the quack of a duck. Every single time the alarm went off, even if it was mid-sentence for someone – they stopped and smiled at the ridiculous noise.
3. Do it again sometime. You can’t multi-task just to say, “Hey look at how efficient we are!” We really want to meet those goals we talked about.
- At the next meeting, everyone knows they’ll have two minutes to share. We’ll all think of a great win we want everyone to know about, and we’ll also have a better concept of how much we can fit into “a couple of minutes.”
- Then at the end of the meeting, we’ll all share the SAME win, but in ONE minute instead. It will be a practice in great storytelling, eliminating filler words (umm, well, etc), and sharing with a clear message in mind. Since everyone will have previously shared the story, no one will need to feel frustrated if they don’t finish before the ducky quacks.
Alright – how will you maximize limited time with your teams? What has worked for you, and what has been a disastrous experience that taught you what NOT to do?