Provider Perspective: Richard Branson’s tips on running a meeting

We seem to live in a world that consists of constant meetings.

In many senses they are a necessary part of life; but they can become quite repetitive with the same weekly agenda and same people saying the same old thing week after week.

So how can we make our meetings in to inspirational events that will see us reaching aspirational targets that drives our business forward (or how we we make them less boring?).

Here are a few tips from Richard Branson.  Never one to follow the crowd Richard says he has never worked out of a conventional office … and he seems never to have run a conventional meeting.

Oh, by the way.  the headlines are Richard’s … i wrote the notes that go with them!

1. Step away from the usual weekly agenda and set an inspiring theme.

Sure, there are somethings that need to go on the agenda each week and I’ve always advocated that (even if it is to provide evidence to Inspectors). But sometimes it is good to ditch the weekly agenda and choose an inspiring theme.  For example I recently had a restaurant thinking of all the ways they could serve chocolate .. some were conventional and some very bizarre … but we came up with more than 20 ideas that sounded weird but when examined formed the basis of new menu ideas.

2. Bring together a diverse mix people to broaden discussion.

Invite people from outside of your group to the meeting and encourage them to take part.  They will often ask simple questions like “Why?” that set you off wondering if there isn’t a better way forward.

3. Engage thought-provoking speakers to spark ideas and generate debate.

Bring in a speaker to talk to you about something you may think you know a lot about .. or to introduce you to something totally new.  I love this one as it makes us all think about new ways to achieve.  it maybe ideas about new technologies or just a way to simplify something we’ve done in a more complex way.

4. Change venues – lose the laptops and say bye to convention, suits and ties.

Anyone that knows me will know I hold most meetings in coffee shops.  It relaxes people and more is achieved.

Take this further and hold training and planning days off site.  You don’t need to go overseas .. just a few hundred metres away can change the scene and provide a dynamic that is otherwise hard to find.


5. Surprise the group with something special.

Richard suggests bringing in a singer or magician … provider budgets don’t stretch that far so a packet of biscuits might have to do!

Seriously, if you organise meetings it is sometimes good to come up with something unexpected.  It might be as small as prizes for the most ideas on a topic, but do something unexpected.


6. Ban slide presentations!

This is definitely one for providers.  In Richard’s 0pinion PowerPoint slides with long lists of what you’re talking about should be banned.

There is definitely a place for  presentations but avoid death by PowerPoint.

Don’t think that Prezi users escape this one … being seasick from watching Prezi slides is a real hazard these days!

You can however use short videos, go online or use photos.  These can all bring a meeting to life.