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21 Out of the Box Team Meeting Ideas Staff Will Love

Out of the box meeting ideas are essential for employee engagement and high team performance.

No matter the environment, whether it’s at work, in the classroom, within the realm of sports or any other extracurricular activity, team meetings are an essential part of a group’s success.

But if leaders don’t keep regular meetings fresh with out of the box ideas, those obligatory gatherings can begin to feel like a waste of time. Even worse, it can lead to a disengaged group with poor communication skills.

The good news is that there are tons of great ways to keep your team engaged by using fun out of the box meeting ideas and other team building activities.

This post will provide creative ideas for leaders to use in large groups as well as small teams, remote teams and those that are in the office!

The benefits of team meetings

Meetings allow space to communicate and share information, improve performance, team build, resolve issues and work through problem solving.  This dedicated time helps align teams towards a common goal and stay accountable as a group.

And when team meetings are effective, then benefits take good teams to the greatest levels!  Some of the benefits of regular team meetings include:

  • Cultivating new ideas makes for a more creative team
  • Building stronger relationships
  • Increased critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Boosts productivity
  • Encourages participation and inclusion
  • Increases employee satisfaction and engagement
  • Greater sense of team spirit and camaraderie

The best way to start using out of the box meeting ideas

While there are certainly best practices to follow in creating an effective team meeting, adding some fun team meeting ideas will help keep a more positive atmosphere and grow employee engagement.

The first thing is to determine which out of the box meeting ideas will serve your team well. Pick a few different ideas from the list below and incorporate them into your regular meetings.  Select activities that are different enough to keep it fresh. 

It is also a good idea to check in with your team members after each meeting using a brief two or three question survey to assess their level of satisfaction with the meeting.  Ask what was effective, what they enjoyed and what didn’t work or didn’t feel like a good use of time.  This is valuable feedback for leaders to create the most effective meetings for the whole team moving forward.

21 out of the box team meeting ideas staff will love

Use these 21 out of the box team meeting ideas for your team’s current projects or infuse them into your regular meetings to enhance the group’s professional development.

1. Skill Swap

Have fun with team-building activities by connecting on a personal level. Each team member gets 10-15 minutes of agenda time to showcase a particular skill they would like to share.  This can be something work related or something a bit more personal.  From helpful shortcuts in Excel to learning how to greet someone in a foreign language, this fun experience promotes social interaction, team building and fosters a growth mindset. Plus it’s a great way to learn different skills!

2. Appreciation Opener

Most people like to be thanked for their hard work or a job well done.  Begin each meeting by recognizing a team member for their accomplishments or contributions to the group.  Pick a different team member to highlight for each meeting.

3. Two Truths and a Lie

Some ice breakers can feel like a chore, but this is a fun way for team members to get to know each other and have a few laughs at the same time.  In this simple game, each team member shares two truths about themselves along with one clever lie.  The rest of the group must turn detective and figure out which statement is false. 

4. Office Ted Talks

This is a great way to boost the confidence and public speaking skills of your team.  Have each team member prepare a 5-minute talk on a topic of their choice.  Topics can range from anything from the history of their favorite sports team or how they became interested in their main hobby to the best places to eat locally.  This showcases the diversity of your team while creating an engaging way to build better public speaking skills.

5. Change Up the Environment

Get out of the conference room! A change of scenery is more than just refreshing, it has been scientifically proven to be positive for your brain. Taking a simple field trip to hold your next meeting in the great outdoors can activate your parasympathetic nervous system and emit alpha brain waves.  These alpha brain waves are tied to reduced stress and anxiety levels and greater levels of focus, intuition and sense making. If you work in an area that is difficult to get outside, transform your main meeting room to create a more inviting environment.  Paint the walls a brighter color, infuse some essential oils and add wall hangings of outdoor scenes. Invite your virtual team to do the same in their at-home office space!

6. Q&A Sessions

Intentionally carving out time for employees to ask questions is essential in developing good team communication and building better communication skills overall. Q&A is often left for the end of the meeting when time may be running short and team members feel rushed.  Consider a few out of the box ideas when it comes to making time for Q&A and remember to include your remote team as well.  Schedule monthly town hall style virtual events, hold standing office hours for individuals or groups, or flip your weekly team meeting agenda and begin with Q&A.  Making time for team members to use their voice will encourage active participation, build confidence, and trust, and grow employee engagement.   

7. Mind Map Meetings

Ignite a group brainstorming session by creating a mind map around a certain topic. This is the best way to get all meeting attendees involved in sharing their ideas around a specific project, issue, or concept.  Mind mapping can be done in-person or with virtual teams and provides an effective way to organize thoughts and ideas.  Here are some great examples of mind maps for various industries as well as personal use.

8. Book Club

The atmosphere of a book club can be inspiring, creative, and stimulating.  Create that same feeling by bringing a book club structure to a team meeting.  Prior to the meeting, distribute an article to your team and ask them to read it in advance.  The reading should be relatable or relevant to a topic you would like your team to reflect on.  Create a list of thought-provoking questions and have team members share their insights with the group.  Sharing and listening to different perspectives regarding a common read may lead to fresh ideas and spark meaningful discussion.

9. Scavenger Hunt

Create a meaningful game that builds camaraderie and encourages teamwork at the same time.  If you work in an office environment, turn this into an opportunity to improve the environment or complement any upcoming audit activities.  Develop a list with items to find such as:

  • The location of a stained ceiling tile that needs to be replaced
  • Outdated signage or missing way finding signs
  • An unorganized space or room
  • A burned out light
  • An empty soap dispenser
  • Something that is in low supply
  • An outdated posting on the intranet
  • An expired supply or other item

This is a great way to clean up your environment while building a culture of employee ownership.

10. One Word Status

At the start of each meeting, ask each team member to share one word that describes their current status.  This could be any word – excited, tired, hopeful, stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, appreciative, grateful, etc.  For leaders, it allows you to take the temperature of your group quickly and effectively.  You can adjust your messaging to be more effective when you have a better handle on your team’s disposition.  For peers, it provides an opportunity to practice empathy and understanding towards your colleagues. 

11. Invite a Guest Speaker

Even the best leaders can benefit from bringing in a guest speaker to address their team.  A fresh face and different perspective can be great motivation for any team. 

12. Potluck Meeting

Brown bag lunch meetings are common but consider spicing it up a bit by inviting team members to bring in a dish or snack to share.  If you want to take it a step further, add in a recipe swap.

13. Interactive Games

Incorporate a game where the whole group can participate. Whether you have a remote team or in-person team, online games, such as Kahoot or Quizlet, provide an opportunity to customize questions and get everyone involved.  Questions can be of your choice, work-related, non-work related, or a combination of both.  This is a fun way to compliment preparedness efforts for upcoming audits or other inspections.

14. Hold a Caption Contest

This out of the box idea can be used in icebreaker games or as a fun activity for weekly staff meetings.  Think you know who the witty people are on your team?  This is a great way to uncover the humorous side of other team members as well!

15. Hold a Personal Development Workshop

If you have a larger group, developmental workshops can be one of the most effective ways to drive employee satisfaction.  Choose a topic that will benefit the employee personally as well as professionally to maximize the opportunity.  Topics such as time management, financial literacy, active listening, and work-life balance are some of the highest rated subjects for growth among all levels of employees.  Ask an industry-related professional to facilitate your team to keep it fresh and relevant.

16. Use the Pomodoro Technique

There will be times when leaders must schedule longer meetings, or those that are greater than one hour.  But it’s challenging to run a productive meeting and keep interest high for that long.  The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to break up the agenda in a way that keeps the team engaged, fresh and productive.  This technique breaks up meetings into 20-minute increments, followed by five-minute breaks after each increment. 

17. Assign Roles to Team Members

If you are looking for an effective way to engage a team, assigning them various meeting roles is your answer.  When people are asked to contribute in some way, they instantly become more engaged with the task at hand or topic being discussed.  Appoint different team members for certain meetings, or every meeting.  Choose employees for roles such as meeting leader or facilitator, timekeeper, note taker or any other relevant role for the team.  This is a great way to push team members out of their comfort zone and expose them to growth opportunities.

18. Small Incentives

A little recognition can lead to a huge positive impact.  Surprise your staff members with a token of appreciation such as a fruit tray or pizza lunch.  Or build employee engagement with a little friendly competition during your next meeting. Put together a few work-related trivia questions and offer small gift cards for the local coffee shop or gas as prizes.

19. Stand Up Meetings

Holding a stand-up meeting is a great idea to share quick updates and ensure everyone is on the same page.  Stand-up meetings should be limited to 15 minutes or less and can be held anywhere your team can comfortably fit.  And the benefits of these quick, non-sedentary sessions go beyond good time management.  Research from Washington University in St. Louis shows that standing during meetings boost excitement around creative processes and promotes a more team-centered environment.

20. Sticky Note Session

If your team is faced with problem solving this is a fantastic way to boost creative thinking.  Write out the main problem or topic in the middle of a whiteboard or on a sheet of paper and tape it to the wall.  Give each team member a limited number of sticky notes and ask them to jot down possible solutions or ideas.  Encourage out of the box thinking.  The team leader should group the sticky notes and name them by category.  Stick them up on the wall and engage in group discussion.  Remote teams can do a similar exercise during online meetings, using sticky note tools in Google sheets and screen share.

21. Cancel the Meeting

Yes, that’s right, I said it.  Cancel the meeting.  The most effective team meetings are those that are not seen as a waste of time.  As a leader, it’s important to cultivate a company culture that supports respect for each other’s time.  Holding weekly team meetings or daily stand-up meetings for the sake of checking a box is inefficient and borderline disrespectful.  Assess the needs of your team and identify alternative methods of communication such as the company intranet or team emails to disseminate generic messaging or non-time sensitive updates.

Next steps to a more effective team meeting that your staff will love

The most important thing for leaders to remember is that there are tons of ways to bring fun, out of the box team meeting ideas into the professional environment and be successful!

Customizing your team meetings with a few out of the box ideas will go a long way to making your employees feel appreciated and engaged.

Pick an out of the box idea for your next meeting and host a team gathering that everyone looks forward to!