Prop Meetings Up

By Christine Neuberger

What’s the single most vital factor in meeting success? Active participation. One way to encourage enthusiastic participation is through the use of props to pump up a meeting with energy, focus, humor and drama. In 101 Ways to Make Meetings Active, author Mel Silberman suggests props to engage participants:

Hats. Supply various hats for attendees playing facilitator, recorder, timekeeper and other designated roles. Try caps with company or sports logos.

Posters. Create a mood and stir interest by displaying posters with quotations tied to the meeting’s subjects. Ask participants to connect their favorite quote to the agenda.

Freebies. Giveaways greet attendees and show gratitude for their presence. Consider pens, toys, party favors or group photos.

Rewards. Keep small but real awards on hand to say thanks for a finished project, a special contribution, the meeting’s on-time ending or a difficult group decision. Candy, stickers or paper money provide acknowledgement.

Music. Before a meeting starts, or during a break, play invigorating or relaxing music, whether that’s environmental, classical, reggae or rock. Check to see if you need permission from the producer.

Sound Signals. Use a bell or whistle to call a meeting to order. Alternatives to a gavel fit the bill more pleasantly.

Games. Occupy people during breaks. Consider simple games and puzzles: crossword puzzles, word hunts and brain teasers, or a Koosh ball, Slinky, Yo-Yo or Silly Putty.

Speaker Identifiers. Pass something around to attendees as they take turns speaking. Among the possibilities are balls, bean bags and toy microphones.

Balloons, Flowers and Plants. Create a calm setting, a party mood or focal points using balloons or flowers as decoration.

Index Cards. Few meeting tools are more versatile than the index card. For polling, note-taking, name tents and written suggestions, get a lot of mileage out these of cards.