7 Ways Leaders Can Run Better Meetings with Gary Ware, Creative Catalyst & Workshop Facilitator, Breakthrough Play

GW scaled headshot

Meetings are often seen as necessary but dreaded events that everyone complains about. But do they have to be?

As a leader, you can transform these gatherings from mundane to meaningful. The answer lies in creating a safe environment that nurtures idea-sharing, collaboration, and innovation.

Podcast guest, Gary Ware shares essential strategies to make your meetings more engaging, productive, and enjoyable. Gary is the Founder of Breakthrough Play and is a sought-after Corporate Facilitator and Keynote Speaker with nearly a decade of experience as a performer in improv theatre. He assists teams with unlocking creativity, confidence, and sparks collaboration with experiential methods proven to drive peak performance.

In this episode, we start with some questions to ask before you pull people together and how to set your meeting up for success. Gary shares some connection activities to use at the start of meetings and describes how to create group agreements. We discuss how to get a meeting back on track, the best ways to brainstorm, and code words you can use. Finally, Gary shares how to get feedback after the meeting to ensure the meetings are valuable for everyone.

Join us as we uncover practical strategies and valuable tips to transform your meetings, foster creativity, and cultivate a positive atmosphere that inspires collaboration within your team.

Key Highlights

  • Before you decide you need a meeting, set the intention. What’s the purpose? Why are you meeting in the first place?
  • Both in-person meetings and virtual meetings need a break every 90 minutes (at a minimum). For virtual, also changing modality helps keep engagement up.
  • The first step of any meeting is to kick off with a moment of connection. It gives participants a DOSE – dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins.
  • Prioritize connection over content (people want to be seen).
  • Gary’s favorite connection activities:
    • Red/Yellow/Green – allows the leader to know where the team is at, and gives everyone feedback.
    • “True for me” –  give them a statement and have them respond –  give them the permission to respond – don’t force people
  • Jen’s favorite connection activities:
    • People who know me well, know I’m happiest when… (hat tip to Jeannie Jones)Have a list of activities and have people stand/turn on the camera if they have done that activity.
    • Culture First prompt: “If you really knew me, you would know…”
  • Agreements help frame how we show up with one another
  • Code words to use in meeting: Color – give me more detail; Advance – forward story along; Emotion – add emotion
  • Getting people involved – pause for them to think (be ok with silence); if virtual, use a chat storm, both in person and virtual use Slido or Mentimeter.
  • Safe ways to brainstorm
    • Ask participants for their worst ideas (vote and rank then unpack)
    • Yes& mindset – accept and build on it
    • When ideas are collected, you can shift the mindset to one that poke holes in the ideas.
  • Have an intentional close
    • What are the next steps?How are people feeling?Repeat the red/yellow/green activity
    • Check for understanding – 1 thing they learned or they’re going to do
  • Get feedback and iterate to make meetings better. You can use these prompts:
    • I liked/I wish/I will
    • I like/I wish/I wonder
  • Does this need to be a meeting? If so, does it need to be the same way every time?
  • Give meeting roles such as the time czar, celebrator, dissentor, etc.

Links Mentioned

Culture First Chapters

Jenny Sawyer Klein, Play on Purpose

Gary on LinkedIn

Guest Bio

Gary Ware, founder of Breakthrough Play and author of the influential book, Playful Rebellion:
Maximize Workplace Success Through The Power of Play, is a standout corporate facilitator and
keynote speaker with over 20 years in the business arena. Partnering with top-tier companies like
SAP and Intuit, Gary excels in employing improv and playful methodologies to enhance team
creativity, confidence, and collaboration. Beyond his workshops and speaking engagements,
Gary enjoys magic and adventures with his family. Recently, he was celebrated as one of the
Top 25 Emerging Culture Creators by Culture Amp in the category The Future of Work.