“Are you lonely? Tired of working on your own? Do you hate making decisions? Hold a meeting! You can see people, show charts, feel important, point with a stick, eat donuts, impress your colleagues. All on company time. Meetings: the practical alternative to work”.
So runs the cartoon recently emerging on my social media feeds. We all want to make meetings better don’t we? We all have better things to do then sit in pointless, rambling meetings that take too long to get to the point.
The latest idea from the Wally Stott Institute to improve meetings is to ensure that they begin and end with a theme tune. Great theme tunes have been a part of all our lives. Some are local (I wouldn’t expect the Dad’s Army theme music to play well everywhere in EMEA). Others are age defined, although great theme tunes have a way of resurfacing in popular culture – A Team for instance. Some are timeless and thanks to movies global – 007 or Rocky.
Now that we never attend a meeting without a smartphone there’s no reason not to introduce a theme tune to set the mood with the outcomes of improved focus and productivity.
The idea of using mood music has of course been around for creativity for eons. There’s lots of findable content on what makes for the best type of mood, either for idea generation or working productively on your own. One of my colleagues swears by Acid House when working on ideas. Another team’s leader favours 90’s House but the rest of the team turn it off when he goes to the loo. When we run ideas sessions our strat team always like to play dance music generally during the bit of the meeting when people are turning up and settling in.
Now we can all take this further, and become more specific. Choose a theme tune for a regular meeting type in order to set the tone for the session. So if you’re having to defend an account in a (UK), against the odds, repitch open and close the meeting with the Dad’s Army theme tune. If you’re reviewing work, play the Vision On Gallery theme. Regular group catch ups can open and close with the theme from Cheers to remind everyone what a great team they are. Tech meetings will have the theme from Dr Who, or Tomorrow’s World. Ethnographic research debriefs obviously hear Life on Earth’s theme. New business meetings generally should open with the theme from Rocky, or Grandstand or Ski Sunday. Client service reviews should hear the theme from Downton Abbey to remind the team of their place.
Then aside from theme tunes you could go more specific and use a pop tune to set the tone. A meeting to tell the repitch team that they’ve lost would use Abba’s Winner takes it all. Sometimes people can’t bear to give necessary feedback to team members, when a 360 review has been clearly critical. Managers don’t want to give bad news straight. How much easier this would be if the meeting opened with some relevant music : Bad Moon Rising has been suggested – that would send a message at the start of a review. Close with Man in the Mirror once constructive progress is agreed.
Run of bad luck in the agency? There’s only one way to go as Jacob, Ratcliffe and Tickell made clear at Nabs’ Stranger than Summer bash when they performed the ultimate bounce back song – “I will survive”.