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Jamie Lawrence


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Book review: 50 ways to liven up your meetings


50 ways to liven up your meetings – Review

Title: 50 ways to liven up your meetings
Author: Graham Roberts-Phelps
Publishers: Gower, June 2001
Format: Hardback 200 pages
ISBN: 0 566 083922
Price: £45

Buy this book from the TrainingZONE – Blackwells bookshop.

The book is split into two sections:
Part 1 is18 pages on Ideas to Improve the Management of Meetings, and Part 2,the major part of the text, 160 pages describing the 50 ways to liven up your meetings. There is an Appendix called “Inspirational Quotations”.

Ideas to Improve the Management of Meetings has sections on how to Set Aims, and describing different types of meetings, and a substantial section on how to undertake presentations in meetings.

The most useful tools are a single reproducible sheet “Meeting Planner” which includes the question “Does everyone really need to attend”, but no follow up advice on how to deal with the usual answer which is NO.

The final section in Part 1 is called “How to really liven up your meeting !”, and unfortunately is only one and a half pages long consisting of 25 bullet point ideas, some of which really appealed to me, e.g. Hold the meeting in a lift / cupboard / coach etc, Give out whistles that people must use immediately they hear “management speak”, Fine people for being late, Use an egg timer to time out talkative participants.

Part II activities have assembled suggested applications at the beginning of each activity. The 12 possible applications are: Energizer, Icebreaker, Interlude, Building Rapport, Encouraging Communication, Practising group working, Encouraging creativity, Data analysis and problem solving, Controlling the meeting, Focussing individuals, Planning Improvements, and Testing Learning.

The 50 activities are similar to the type of activities that you would find in any Games Trainers Use collection, and are listed alphabetically. Typical activities are:

My Secret
Each participant writes down a little-known fact or interesting anecdote about themselves . Once the papers are collected the group has to guess the owner of each “secret”.

Spelling Bee
Participants work in small groups to test each other’s spelling skills

Lateral Thinking Puzzles
To get participants working in pairs or small groups to practise creativity or lateral thinking.

Other activities are based on analytical tools:
Flowcharting, SWOT analysis, Mind Mapping, and Brainstorm are all these types of activities.

Appendix: The Inspirational Quotes section is a bit of a bonus. We are advised to “Display an interesting or thought provoking quotation on a flipchart as participants enter the meeting room”.

The accompanying press handout suggests that “No preparation or special skills is (sic) required so 50 Ways to liven up your meetings can be used straightaway”

This is a solid collection of some useful techniques and exercises which could be used without anyone feeling they were in a therapy group instead of a staff meeting.


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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

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