A simple game for a more productive staff meeting

If a meeting is worth having, then it’s worth remembering. Memories – ones that last days or weeks after a meeting ends – take work. Research from cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Carmen Simon shows that we forget up to 90% of new information we learn. If people forget 90% of your staff meeting, then what’s the point?

Help attendees make the most of their meeting time with a staff meeting game that reinforces what was discussed. Don’t let the term “game” throw you off. I’m not talking about Jeopardy or Family Feud. This is a tool that helps increase retention by giving attendees more exposure to the information presented. Here’s how it works:

  • Create trivia questions based on what is discussed in the meeting
  • Each attendee completes these questions at the end of the meeting
  • Results of the game are shared at the start of the next meeting

Playing this game exposes attendees to key information on three separate occasions. This repetition helps people retain what they learned long enough to get back to their desk and act on it.

Step 1: Write out questions during the staff meeting

Structure questions so they reinforce key takeaways from what is discussed

Assign someone to write out the questions. This person will create questions throughout the meeting based on what is presented. For example, if the development team just fixed a major, public-facing bug, create a question asking which bug got fixed.

Each question should reinforce a takeaway from the meeting. The objective here is to improve retention. Identify what the audience should retain, and make that the crux of your question. The exact number of questions you create will depend on the meeting, but 10 – 12 questions for an hour-long meeting is a good rule of thumb.

These questions can go into a Google Survey or Survey Monkey, but I recommend Poll Everywhere and its survey activity. A Poll Everywhere survey can include any number of multiple-choice and open-ended questions. You can share the finished survey with everyone using a single URL. The results are saved automatically in your account as the participants respond.

Step 2: Share questions after the staff meeting ends

Have attendees complete the game before returning to their desks

Personally, I think the best time to have attendees play this game is right after the meeting ends, but before they return to their desks. People will forget otherwise. Plus, this is a great way to review (and reinforce) everything that was just discussed.

If you created a Poll Everywhere survey, you can share that survey with everyone with a single, handy URL. Find that URL by navigating to ‘Present’ → ‘Share’ → ‘Shareable response link’ in the survey editing screen. Copy and paste that URL into an email or instant message, and the participants handle the rest.

A note on anonymity: I prefer to keep this game anonymous. What’s important is that people complete the game, not their individual score. Completing the game improves memory retention. Tracking individual performance puts unnecessary stress on the attendees (and sucks all the fun out of the experience).

Read more: How to collect anonymous feedback with Poll Everywhere

Step 3: Review the results at the next meeting

Use the results to identify any gaps in understanding and address them

It’s time to review the results of your game. Sometime before you next staff meeting, take a look at the results of your survey. If you used Poll Everywhere, those results are recorded automatically in your account. You can review each question individually, or summarize them all into an executive report.

It’s important to note which questions the majority of people got wrong. If only a few people answered a question incorrectly, that’s on them. If the majority answered incorrectly, there could be an issue with how that portion of the meeting is presented. Rexamine that section and ensure it’s both relevant and accessible for the audience. This staff meeting game is as much a test for the presenters as its is for the audience.

Once the analysis is finished, present the results at the start of the next staff meeting. People will naturally be curious to know how everyone fared, so it’s best to make the reveal early. It’s also a natural way to review what was discussed previously before diving into the contents of the next staff meeting.

Discussing the previous staff meeting game results at the start is also an excellent context switch for the attendees. David Politi, a designer at Poll Everywhere, is a proponent of context switching as a way to help people focus on your meeting.

“You should always be mindful of what people were doing before your meeting. Chances are they still have a lot on their mind. Consider giving them a strong context switch, like a palate-cleanser for the mind.”
— David Politi, designer, Poll Everywhere

For more advice on how to run a more efficient meeting – including insights on timeboxing and dealing with silence – check out 15 staff meeting ideas that keep employees alert and engaged.