Make team meetings engaging and effective

As we approach the end of the year, I am supporting several organisations with their end of year review meetings and other team building sessions. This is something that I love doing as I have too often been sat in a team meeting that was more OW than WOW! Team meetings should be a constructive, positive and motivating experience, not leave individuals counting the ceiling tiles waiting for the meeting to end.

Below are a few creative ways of engaging team members and ensuring participation from all!

  1. 3Hs – Highlights, Headaches and Horizons

This model is a great way of checking-in with the group and sharing with each other how the period since the last meeting has gone for them and what’s coming up. Ask each of the group (individually or in pairs) to consider:

What have been the Highlights? What went particularly well for them?

Where there any Headaches? Ask the group to be honest and consider anything that didn’t go quite to plan, or perhaps something unexpected that caused them to reprioritise their work.

What’s on the Horizon? What key projects or pieces of work are coming up that the group are excited about or perhaps need some peer support with?


  1. WOOP – wishes, options, obstacles and plans

When thinking about what’s in store for the team for the next few months, the WOOP model can help streamline effective work plans to achieve goals.

W ishes       What do you want to achieve? What do you want to change? Be specific, and think of something that is challenging but achievable.

O ptions       What options are available to you to help achieve your wish? What internal resources can you draw on to assist you?

O bstacles     Consider any potential barriers or obstacles to achieving your wish. Remember, these should be obstacles that you can exert some influence over or work to avoid.

P lans              What is your specific plan to achieve your wish? What individual tasks or steps need to be taken?


  1. Stop, start and continue – as a traffic light

Take time to reflect as a group what’s working well and, just as importantly, what isn’t. Using regular team meetings to check-in on ways of working and how the group are feeling is vital in ensuring that ineffective processes are reviewed and improved as quickly as possible.

The ‘Stop, start and continue’ model is a great tool to facilitate this conversation. On a flipchart, have a traffic light where Red = Stop; Amber = Start; Green = Continue. Get the group to list ideas under each heading:

Stop – List ideas/items that:

  • Are not working for the team
  • Are not having the desire outcome
  • Are impractical
  • The team dislikes

Start – List ideas/items that:

  • The team should be doing
  • New ideas not considered before
  • Ideas to address new situations or factors that have emerged

Continue – List ideas/items that:

  • Are working well
  • The team likes
  • That the team see as successful
  1. Nancy Kline and ‘Time to Think’

In her work ‘Time to Think’ Nancy Kline outlines the Ten Components required to create a ‘Thinking Environment’. These are:

  1. Attention Listening with palpable respect and without interruption
  2. Equality Ensuring equal turns to think and speak
  3. Ease Offering freedom from internal urgency
  4. Incisive Questions Finding and removing untrue assumptions that distort thinking
  5. Information Supplying the facts. Dismantling denial
  6. Diversity Encouraging divergent thinking and diverse group identities
  7. Encouragement Giving courage for cutting edge thinking by removing internal competition
  8. Feelings Allowing sufficient emotional release to restore thinking
  9. Appreciation Practicing a 5:1 ratio of appreciation to criticism
  10. Place Creating a physical environment that says to people, “You matter.”

Each of these 10 components can be applied to your team meetings, helping ensure the way the team members treat each other within these meetings enables thinking rather than prevents it.

One of the key principles of Kline’s approach is Equality – ensuring that everyone in the group can input to the discussions at hand. In your next meeting, make sure that everyone gets their turn to speak, uninterrupted for 2 minutes. How often does someone start to share their thoughts on a topic before being interrupted or cut-off by someone else? Ask the group to pay attention to everyone’s opinions and refrain from offering their input until their turn.                      

  1. Creative problem solving e.g. rich pictures

Instead of just using the meeting to share information or updates, try solving a problem or working with the group to make a decision. Using creative techniques to problem solve, such as ‘Rich Pictures’ can really bring a team meeting to life.

A rich picture is a visual representation of a problem or situation. It helps generate discussions within a group so they can come to a shared understanding of the situation. Next time you want to discuss a topic, grab a flipchart and pens and ask the group to draw it instead of talking about it!

Let us know how you get on!

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