Posted by Jay Wilkinson

Organizational meetings may be considered a necessary evil, but what if you could make them a force for good? Some workplaces have taken steps to up the value of their meetings and get team members excited about gathering together.

Here are four things to learn from others about how to revolutionize your team meetings.

  1. Make them memorable.

    At Firespring, forgetting the daily staff meeting is pretty difficult, in part because it starts at an unusual time: 11:11 a.m. And it lasts for exactly 11 minutes. This practice helps to eliminate tardiness and focuses the whole company on gathering at exactly 11:11 for the full 11 minutes it’s in session.

  2. Make them fun.

    Every Thursday, baby food manufacturer Plum Organics gets out coloring books and holds a brainstorming meeting where staff members color and talk. At mobile game publisher Genera Games, employees attend meetings while shooting hoops on the basketball court. Experts say active meetings keep people engaged as well as foster creative thinking.

  3. Make them effective.

    Brivo, a security management software provider, keeps meetings on point with its “no rehash” rule. Employees can raise the “no rehash” Ping-Pong paddle when the conversation gets redundant. This keeps discussions moving forward instead of stuck in endless chatter.

  4. Make them short.

    The staff at, a search engine for vacation rentals, sets a stopwatch for 30 minutes at the beginning of each meeting. If the meeting runs long, the person who called the meeting must throw $5 in the team beer jar. Business development consulting firm Just Fearless sets a 30-minute time limit as well, and if the meeting runs long, the chairs are removed and everyone must stand until the end.

And then there’s this revolutionary thought: Not every meeting needs to be an actual meeting. Sometimes technology (email, workplace chat, etc.) can help you accomplish as much in 10 minutes as what your 60-minute conference room session just did.

While meetings feel productive because everyone’s in the same room talking about the same thing, they tend to get in the way of getting actual work done. Harvard Business Review business blog suggests that before you schedule a meeting, you ask these four questions:

  1. Have I thought through this situation?
  2. Do I need outside input to make progress?
  3. Does moving forward require a real-time conversation?
  4. Does this necessitate a face-to-face meeting?

If you answer “no” to any of these questions, a course of action other than a meeting may be just as productive. If you haven’t given yourself sufficient time to think through a situation, do that before you take up someone else’s. If you don’t need real-time communication (for example, if the matter isn’t urgent), write an email. Meetings are useful when they’re actually necessary. But if you’re just going to spend an hour talking about things with others that you could easily answer on your own or with an instant message, your productivity will suffer.

Of course, not every meeting is necessarily your choice. If a team member schedules a meeting and you’re not sure your attendance is necessary, ask if there’s an alternative way you can provide input. You may find that a quick email is sufficient.

Want to manage your engagement with team members and volunteers more efficiently online? Firespring offers websites with a built-in member management system that allows you to communicate with donors, board members, staff and volunteers through a centralized, password-protected area within your site. A tool like this could help eliminate unnecessary meetings and still get important things accomplished. Request a free demo site to explore how our website tools can help your nonprofit increase efficiency and manage communications with ease at your organization.