February 24, 2021

3 Tips for Bringing Imagination to Your Next Meeting

Imagination is the key to unlocking our potential

The future depends on our ability to respond creatively to the unprecedented challenges ahead. Now how will we get this done — working from our kitchen tables at home?

While technology provides us more information and possibilities than ever before, it often forces us into a passive mode. We spend days in ongoing online meetings, binge-watch Netflix, and scroll endlessly through our phones. Sharing and consuming information is not sufficiently solving our challenges. We get buried in a never-ending stream of emails, text messages, document notifications, Team meetings, and Zoom huddles. Sometimes it just feels like technology is causing more work instead of progression!

While technology empowers us to solve some of our challenges, it is people who are creative. Engagement is the key to building solutions together. MURAL talks a lot about the need to "make space for imagination." MURAL provides the platform for us and our teams to be creative and productive — no matter where we work.

In this article, I'll provide three tips to use MURAL's platform to create engaging online meetings and get stuff done!

Tip 1: The reframing icebreaker

Engagement is vital in any meeting. Don't just assume people care about your plans; it is essential to get them engaged. Icebreakers are ideal for providing fresh input and getting people involved.


Why?

By asking people to contribute to the meeting from the start sets the stage for a creative session. People feel heard and become engaged. It brings new perspectives and exposes similarities and diversity in your teams.

How does it work?

Start with picking the right topic for the icebreaker. Select a personal question, so your attendees feel comfortable talking about it. Think ahead about how you can connect possible answers to your challenge.

Your icebreaker makes it easy for your participants to think about the challenge from different perspectives without bias. Sharing personal stories builds engagement from the start. Use their input later in the workshop to reflect on possible solutions and to provide a different angle to your challenge.

Example:

Let's say you're coming together for a brainstorming session with your product team. You want to ideate new functionalities to your existing product. Send everyone your reframing icebreaker question in advance of the meeting. You could ask them to describe their favorite life hacks. Now during your meeting, this will initially get everyone engaged in sharing their personal stories.

Learning about your team's personal preferences is fun and deepens relationships. It also reveals the different contexts in which products are used. Make sure to dig deeper and explore the reasons why they came up with the hack. Capture these specific features. Later in your meeting, when you are brainstorming your product's functionalities, use your icebreaker's insights to deepen the conversation.

Tip 2: The pie chart agenda

Exploring ideas is challenging. Discussions can run suddenly and intensely in many directions. We run the risk of confusing ourselves further before joining the next online meeting.

Why?

When we explore complex, ambiguous ideas, we need a reference point to set a course into the unknown. Managing creativity is about restrictions and requires structure. Creating a plan is as valuable for you as it is for your workshops' participants. It forces you to think about the process and helps you to keep on schedule during your workshop. Have a plan to protect your participants valuable time, and be prepared to adapt your strategy to evolving needs along the way.

How does it work?

A pie chart agenda* allows you to present the plan and allocate time to reach your meeting's objective. Start with drawing a circle, showing the amount of time. Write your aim above the circle. Describe the steps you need to take to reach the goal, and decide the amount of time required for each step. 


🚀 PRO TIP: Use an animated gif to get the clock ticking and visualize the notion of time in your schedule! Pressure makes diamonds!


Example:

Imagine you have successfully engaged your team in your brainstorming meeting, and they are on a roll. New ideas keep flowing. Since you have a plan in place, everyone is aware of the allocated time. Time management is much easier since everyone is aware of the allotted time. 

*The pie chart agenda is credited to James Macanufo

Tip 3: Work visually

At this point, we created the right circumstances for creativity to thrive. We have the right people together, working towards a clear goal. Now it is time to unleash the creative powers of your team! Visual thinking is a method that enables teams to explore and solve complex challenges.


Why?

Different people can easily misinterpret ideas captured in words. Visual Thinking is the most effective way to understand each other and co-create. Visuals enable us to build a shared mental model of ideas and create solutions as a team.

How does it work?

Visual thinking is not about creating art. Organizing and color-coding sticky notes is a great start. Draw connections and ask questions to understand and verify multiple perspectives. Visual Thinking reveals the process of our thinking so others can better understand and contribute.

Example:

Imagine we are halfway in our brainstorm meeting, and different ideas are emerging. You start organizing concepts and change the colors of the sticky notes so different categories appear. While you are doing this, your teammates see and understand your thinking. The outcomes of your brainstorming meeting are not covered in words but are accessible through visuals. Visuals enable you and your team to engage others, validate solutions, and respond to the unprecedented challenges ahead — right from your kitchen table! 

Bring imagination to your next team meeting!

There are countless ways to encourage imagination with your team. What matters most is that you make that space. By taking the time to imagine together in your team meetings and workshops, you can avoid miscommunication, create engaging experiences, and most of all — find the fun in solving problems as a team!

Hermen Lutje Berenbroek

Hermen Lutje Berenbroek is a strategic designer who helps teams develop, implement, and adopt business solutions faster through visual workshops and designed communication. Connect with Hermen at artifizer.com.