Cool Thing #33: How Do You Turn Staff Meetings into Change-Oriented Teambuilding Sessions?

Can you picture this conversation happening?…
STAFF PERSON: Do you have PowerPoint slides for the meeting?

LEADER: No, this is too important for PowerPoint.
Yes, of course you can.

Here’s the irony: The more PowerPoints you have, the less power.

What got me thinking about PowerPoint slides, and meetings in general, was hearing from one of my favorite executive coaches, Janice Miller* of Strategic Choice Consulting. She shared this Cool Thing:

Several years ago, on a selfish quest to make myself happier, I began reading more about the habits of happy people. I learned that in cultures around the globe, the happiest people are those who have a daily practice of gratitude. I had previously tried and failed at keeping a gratitude journal, but this time I down-loaded an app on my phone to prompt me: “Today I am grateful for…” All I had to do was finish the sentence! This did the trick in establishing a habit I have continued, and it starts my day in the best frame of mind.

Then it dawned on me that this practice could make a difference in the tone of the office. Our business meetings have been so task-oriented-we have an agenda and we get down to solving problems. So I changed the agenda. Now my meetings start in gratitude, recognizing what is going well and thanking people. This has been a morale booster for the thankers as much as the thanked!

We have always practiced “employee recognition” in the workplace, but what I’m talking about is not just a tool for aligning behavior with organization goals. It is an authentic spirit of gratitude-a mindset that elevates human kindness in the workplace. Its effect on employee engagement is profound. And that can be a very good thing for customers.


Just reading Janice’s words makes me smile. I want to go to that meeting. And such meetings would surely make me want to work harder at helping my colleagues.

Further, I’d like to bookend Janice’s opening with a technique for closing a meeting:

Just before wrapping up, you go around the table and ask each attendee,

What are you going to do differently?
This eliminates the first large possibility for misunderstanding while it puts the emphasis on change and, with the addition of that delightful word “differently,” doubles-down on new action.

Start with gratitude. End with action. Who needs PowerPoint?


* Janice coaches senior executives who want to lead high-performing teams with greater ease and better results. She’s had a 20+year corporate management career, including C-level roles with the Fortune 200.
She can be contacted via

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