Are too many internal meetings bringing your team down? Whether your team is remote or back in the office, see how teams are spicing up their meetings with fun and productive ideas.
Team meetings are necessary for your business to flow—but sometimes they feel mundane, counterproductive, or like they interfere with getting “real” work done.
Adding some creative ideas to your meetings can make all the difference for leaders and attendees. When it’s time for staff to get together and check in, try some new ideas to liven up the agenda.
Need fresh inspiration? Here are some great examples of creative staff meeting ideas from high-performing companies—whether you are planning a virtual event or a hybrid event. But first, a quick definition:
What is an internal meeting?
Internal meetings are used to touch base with members of the same organization on issues big and small. The struggle with internal meetings is that while they may feel essential for coordinating action plans, employees often find them as an inefficient use of time.
Research from Harvard Business School and Boston University from 2017 found that 71% of the senior managers they surveyed found meetings were unproductive and inefficient.
Moving into the next generation of a distributed workforce, researchers at London Business School and MediaMath found that remote workers are more productive than those who work in a traditional office environment.
However, the same researchers also found that Zoom meetings can’t replace the “social glue” that holds teams together. People simply aren’t as energized when doing meetings online day after day.
When you take into consideration how many Zoom meetings people have to attend, virtual staff meetings can get old really quickly. So how do you keep your team connected, focused, and engaged?
What makes a great agenda for a team meeting?
You might think your meetings need more spark or games to be more fun, but first things first. One of the initial steps to creating a productive meeting is to identify an end-goal.
By identifying the objective of the meeting, you can ensure that the meeting is actually necessary. Professionals don’t typically enjoy a meeting that could’ve accomplished the same outcome with a simple email.
Outlining the objectives will also help you build a structure and an event agenda that will help you get your work done. It will keep your team on track and focused.
Typically, an effective team agenda for a team meeting will include a:
- Warm welcome: This will vary depending on the type of meeting, how regularly it’s held or the purpose of the meeting. Use this time to greet people, introduce new team members joining, addressing home noise in the background or anything unique about the situation.
- Ice breaker or check-in: This can be used for checking in on the well-being of staff or a fun game (which we’ll get to more below)
- Core conversation: Use this to ask questions, express key observations and concerns, and express gratitude for others
- Closing: Make sure the meeting ends on a positive note, with people on the same page moving forward, and saying goodbye.
How do you make virtual team meetings more fun?
Virtual team meetings can become overwhelming quickly, but adding space to connect emotionally or to bond over a quick game can soften the blow.
There are plenty of ways to make virtual meetings fun—from adding in games to asking interesting questions to get the conversation flowing.
The following internal meeting examples offer ideas on how to make your next meetings—remote or in-person—more engaging.
22 Internal Meeting Ideas for Remote and In-Person Teams
1. Be real, yet to the point, with staff
Gone are the days when it was expected that staff leave their emotions, personal life, and mental health status at home. Yes, employees and managers are still expected to be professional. But, after the collective trauma of 2020, professional teams are more open to the idea of showing up as your “whole self” at work.
This doesn’t mean every meeting needs to be group therapy.
But we can follow in the footsteps of researcher Dr. Brené Brown. She leads staff meetings by asking team members to share just two words on how they feel. This allows them to share where they’re at, without taking too much time from the core of the meeting.
2. Play streaming games before diving in
There are several ways to include online games in your virtual meetings. If you have a regular check-in meeting on Fridays, make that meeting more fun with a five minute streaming game.
Jackbox games offers a variety of games that can be facilitated via browsers and video calls. Creative competition and laughter are the perfect way to energize a meeting and maintain camaraderie even while far apart.
3. Are you “Tuned In?”
Has the meeting started to feel like it’s dragging on and you’re not sure if your team is paying attention. Employee appreciation specialist Christopher Littlefield recommends playing a game called Tuned In.
The idea is simple. Everybody should have a piece of paper on their desk with “Tuned in” written on it.
When the speaker feels like people aren’t listening, they can hold up their “Tuned In” sign. The last person to also hold up their sign must answer a question about themselves or complete a challenge.
This shouldn’t feel like a punishment—we all daydream from time to time. But it can be a fun way to get to know coworkers and laugh together.
4. Focus on values that really matter
Rainbow-washing, greenwashing, all the “woke-washing”… we’ve seen companies promote social justice causes without authenticity. But teams know their companies really live by what they say when they run internal meetings centered on core values.
Not sure where to start? Start advocacy-based employee groups dedicated to developing talks or bringing in leaders to facilitate honest discussions.
Internally-led initiatives built to foster inclusivity or support a cause can make your team feel welcomed or proud to work at your business (when done authentically). It can also spark genuine conversations that truly impact participants.
5. Make them drop and give you 50
It’s rare to hear about companies implementing and benefiting from military tactics in their event strategy, but that’s exactly what Buddytruk did when they started this highly effective internal meeting tactic. They decided that keeping meetings on track and on time was so important to their productivity that if they were forced to extend beyond the scheduled time, the last person speaking would have to do 50 push ups.
The physical challenge was a funny gag that inevitably led to team bonding.
6. Have a standing room only policy
Also a fan of running meetings on time, Just Fearless used another physical approach to holding attendees accountable; whenever meetings run long, the chairs are taken away and everyone is forced to stand until it ends. One of the biggest challenges of internal meetings is remaining focused and on topic.
Having the looming pressure of potentially seeing the chair moved from under you puts things into perspective. The rule applies both in the office and at public venues as well.
Source: Just Fearless
7. Make long-winded employees pay up
Tripping.com plans to make their staff put their money where their mouths are at internal meetings by using a “swear jar”-like approach to their scheduling. At the start of every meeting they set a stopwatch for 30 minutes. If the meeting extends beyond the 30 minutes, whoever called the meeting is responsible for putting $5 into their team beer jar.
Fun rewards mixed with a little friendly public humiliation typically make for a productive internal meeting atmosphere.
8. Donate to charity every time the meeting gets interrupted
Keller-Williams Realty has a strict policy for phones being silenced or off during internal staff meetings. To support this, they developed a rule where attendees whose phones rang during meetings were made to donate to the company’s charity. Not only did it cut down on disruption during the event, it also helped give back to the community at large.
Including a flexible pay-what-you-can option helps make this a feasible option for any company interested in tying together productivity with on-brand social causes.
Source: The Muse
9. Make the Global Office Local
Bizzabo has offices in both New York City and Tel Aviv. While smaller meetings regularly occur between the two offices, a large all-hands meeting is held every two weeks. Projectors, throwable mics and a jam-packed agenda help make the global local. Plus, during these meetings Bizzaboers get to give and receive recognition alongside their overseas counterparts.
Whether your company is spread out across the world or just a region, all-hands meetings can be very effective for creating a cohesive global culture.
10. Keep employees on topic
Brivo knows that internal meetings are often plagued with repeat ideas, spinning off topic, and long tangents that fail to move the conversation forward. To remedy this issue, they decided to use a visual tool. Whenever someone begins rehashing a point that was already made, another team member holds up their “No Rehash” ping pong paddle. Attendees are empowered to bring greater energy and focus to their discussions while also finding ways to help break each other’s bad habits.
Source: Brivo LinkedIn
11. Shoot some hoops
It makes sense that a gaming company would use a game to influence the success of their internal meetings. GeneraGames knows that physical activity is a great way to both access to parts of the mind we don’t use while seated at a desk and give a daily work routine a much needed breather. They find the quick games of basketball help them think more creatively while adding an element of play to the process.
Whether you have direct access to a professional court or use a door hanger nets, it’s possible to incorporate this sporty element into any internal meeting setting.
Source: Genera Games
12. Get personal
True to their brand, LivePerson makes sure to add in a more human aspect to what could turn into yet another boring company event. To do so, they begin each internal meeting with a specific question. Usually the topic is chosen to help break down walls and provoke deep, meaningful conversations between staff members. This technique helps employees bond, strengthen their empathy muscles, and get into a collaborative mode by seeing things from one another’s perspective.
13. Start at a weird time
TINYpulse is not a fan of doing their meetings on the hour or at the half hour. Instead, they choose unusual start times (like 8:48am) so employees can remember when they’re supposed to arrive. The extra effort required to register and remember such an odd number in their otherwise uniform schedule helps people stay on track. As an added bonus, it also serves as a little memory game for participants.
14. Merge team-building with refreshments on breaks
For especially long meetings, IACC makes sure to keep breaks both rejuvenating and focused with variety of tasks and games that require team collaboration. They’ve tried solving puzzles, performing short skits, interviewing each other about their childhood dreams, and everything in between. This breaks up the pace of what could otherwise be a series of presentations or reports and brings in a refreshing and productive alternative. Games plus food, what’s not to love?
15. Create a unique ritual
Poll Everywhere has an interesting idea for starting or ending internal meetings. They have what they call a “moment of Zen”. During this moment they take time, as a group, to learn something new or reflect on their day. Oftentimes meeting leaders will share an inspiring quote or a fun news tidbit. Sometimes team members will highlight interesting notes from the work of other colleagues during the week.
Whatever it is, they share and discuss with another. By zooming out of their immediate business, the team is able to bond over bigger picture ideas. This relationship building tactic helps build stronger collaboration over time.
Source: Poll Everywhere Blog
16. Add a speaker series
Johnson & Johnson makes internal meetings educational with their very own mock Ted Talk series. Employees have the chance to present short lectures on topics they are passionate about. Since the brand is dedicated to innovation, creating an environment in which employees feel free to share their ideas continues to strengthen that endeavor. The program has become so popular that they’ve expanded it through a digital library all employees have access to.
Source: Johnson & Johnson
17. Ask employees what they would like to do
Sometimes a very practical survey is all it takes to upgrade your internal meeting strategy. At Pandora, employees are encouraged to form groups over their shared interests (cold-brew, anyone?). If they reach the minimum number of participants, Pandora funds their group endeavors. You can easily apply this philosophy to internal meetings by polling attendees and sorting out common areas they can bond over. Keep these similarities in mind when choosing a venue or activity.
18. Share and set personal goals
DigitalOcean keeps their meetings all business except for one very important moment. At the conclusion of each internal rendezvous, the staff is welcome to update their publicly shared spreadsheet of personal goals for the week. These goals could be related or unrelated to whatever the meeting was about. This exercise helped employees continue to learn from each other even after they left the conference room. They even eventually started adding short summaries of lessons they learned with each goal so others could benefit from the wisdom.
19. Appoint a decision-maker
Google knows how important data it is to keep meetings concise and to the point. Which is why they make sure to always have someone taking notes and, more importantly, someone making decisions at every meeting. The decision-maker has final say on every issue and makes it their job to keep meetings focused and productive.
The team gets to vote on the decision-maker ahead of time so that the process remains diplomatic. They also make it a point to eliminate as many meetings as possible by solving issues via email. Decision-makers are also empowered to cancel unnecessary meetings by communicating with all parties involved beforehand.
Source: Google Careers
20. Work in some ice breakers
HeadBox is a big fan of ice breakers because, old-fashioned or not, they just plain work. In order to start meetings with the right energy, leaders at HeadBox initiate a game or activity that gets people up and moving. Most of the time the mechanics of the game help attendees naturally get to know on another better. And for large meetings, they’ll even split the crowd up into smaller groups for a little friendly competition.
21. Use small, tangible incentives
Everyone loves free stuff. Whether it’s a little swag, a special lunch or a small gift card, there are an unlimited number of ways to provide attendees with participation incentives. At their internal meetings, Insect Shield Repellent Technology hosts weekly and monthly brainstorms and makes sure to award anyone who comes up with ideas the company chooses to move forward with. It’s a way of showing employees their gratitude for their performance and talents but it’s also a highly effective way to break up a routine meeting agenda.
Source: Insect Shield Facebook
22. Include participants, not spectators
Some employees are more vocal than others. There might be the opportunity to focus on bringing in attendees who have something unique to add to the conversation. Apple does exactly that. They keep their meeting lists small but purposeful, with outspoken attendees being top priority additions to keep ideas flowing and the conversation moving forward in new ways.
Key Takeaways: Your Internal Meetings
Meetings are a great opportunity to flex your planner muscles in new and creative ways. Keep these top tips in mind when coordinating your next internal event:
- Take advantage of event marketing tools and visual reminders to keep everyone on time.
- Add a personal touch through ice breakers or thoughtful details.
- Play around with ways to start and end on time.
- Find unusual ways to keep everyone on task.
- Transform or change at least one major event element.
No matter what you choose to include, meetings are a great way to continue bringing people together and pushing them towards their highest potential.