We are all approaching one year of personal, business, and global disruption from the pandemic. In light of that, the Brainzooming team wants to share with you our learnings and thinking on the next generation of successful business meetings. Look for updates throughout March about new ways to approach virtual, in-person, and hybrid meetings to maximize inclusion, productivity, and impact!

Business Meetings 1.0: We’re All Together

Business Meeting 1.0 - we're all together, cramped in a room

During the typical in-person business meeting, we can all see and hear everyone.

  • We generally know who is saying what.
  • We can read their body language.
  • Maybe most importantly, we can tie every comment back to who said it.

Through sheer repetition, this level of transparency makes us comfortable. We believe we know what everyone thinks—or anyway, we know it about those who speak during the meeting. We compare what people say to what they’ve said previously, and take advantage of their track records to assess their points of view. Unless someone gives us reason to, we assume that what they are saying authentically represents the perspective they hold. It all feels like the best possible situation.

But this experience obscures an important reality. The standard business meeting routinely:

  • Dampens imagination
  • Makes it difficult to share ideas if you aren’t the right person in the right position
  • Gives too much space to big talkers at the expense of everyone who isn’t as adept at fighting for visibility and time

Business people got used to thinking we knew what was happening during in-person meetings, even though we were basing that on only one reality.

Then, the pandemic hit.

Business Meetings 2.0: None of Us Are Together

Business Meeting 2.0

The knee-jerk response to the pandemic was to re-create the standard, pre-pandemic business meeting in a virtual environment. The good (seeing people’s faces, everyone hearing the same messages), the bad (inefficient communication, more words trumping new thinking), and megadoses of the newly awkward (talking over each other, hesitating and losing the window to contribute) translated into tons of growing frustration.

We have all felt the frustration and sensed the lack of productivity in virtual meetings. The characters, scripting, and story arcs of pandemic virtual meetings have become as familiar as a series you’ve binge-watched numerous times, with none of the enjoyment.

One year into the pandemic, virtual meetings (and their participants) are screaming for someone to re-imagine them.

Business Meetings 3.0 - HybridAF Meetings of All Flavors

So many formats for 3.0 Meetings

As more people receive the Covid-19 vaccinations, virtual meetings are giving way to hybrid (some people in person, some online) and fully in-person meetings.

What have we learned about meetings throughout this singularly disruptive period of time? For starters, we’ve learned that convenience shouldn’t be the deciding factor when selecting a meeting format.

What should be the deciding factor? Whether a format will maximize inclusion, productivity, and recognize the other realities taking place within meetings.

Based on years of the Brainzooming team’s experience designing in-person, hybrid, and virtual meetings, we know that there’s room for a Meeting 3.0. We have been designing and facilitating clients through meetings in which:

  • Comments and contributions are anonymous
  • People primarily share their thinking in writing instead of speaking
  • The one-person-speaks, everyone-else-listens model gives way to simultaneous participation for everyone

This formula has been delivering amazing, breakthrough results for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations!

The Beneficial Impacts of Anonymity

The anonymity of online collaboration where people type their comments and ideas reveals another dimension of what’s happening. In fact, when the dynamics change, even participants in senior leadership meetings report a surprising freedom to engage. They’re empowered to share ideas that aren’t fully baked. They aren't pressured to be the smartest people in the meeting.

In other settings, participants are amazed by their inability to identify which of their very familiar colleagues were contributing new thoughts and ideas. To this, we credit the space the Brainzooming approach to meetings 3.0 creates for sharing non-traditional thinking. It’s also due to the fact that even members of close teams bring certain bias—favorable or otherwise—to ideas they expect others to share.

Anonymous, typed responses allow comments and ideas to stand on their own merit in a completely new way. The net of this approach within virtual, in-person, and hybrid meetings yields:

  • More imagination
  • Greater boldness in ideas
  • A willingness for participants to share emerging ideas
  • Openness to ideas from every participant
  • Transparency and honesty in reacting to new concepts and opportunities

Brainzooming has been employing this method as a productive way to build group engagement for nearly a decade. We and our clients know it works.

Making 3.0 Meetings a Blast!

Interested in uncovering these innovative thinking benefits in your most important meetings? We have multiple tools for you to re-imagine your organization’s meeting productivity and impact:

If you’re ready to discuss how Brainzooming can bring this experience to your team through virtual, hybrid, and in-person meetings today, let’s chat about Blast! You’ll quickly discover why we call the experience Blast! because that’s what participants tell us it is! – Mike Brown

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