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Our offices, staff, and clients are spread all across the country, so team meetings are a crucial tool for building our culture. We use tech to bring each other closer together—video meetings whenever possible and tools like Slack and Asana to stay in touch. And we’ve found that simply starting meetings (or brainstorms or conference sessions or events!) with a brief warm-up helps us build actual, warm, human relationships with each other.
And those relationships matter. They help people to feel more comfortable sharing ideas, admitting challenges, and chipping in for each other (and “the experts” seem to back us up on this one). In short, they make our work better!
So how do we make time for these relationship-building warm-ups without taking half of a meeting to play Pictionary (…not that I’ve ever done that 😬)? Our simplest, quickest, most consistently excellent practice is to start meetings with a single question that helps us learn more about each other and find common bonds (or, and this should never be undervalued: common enemies).
Love the idea? Feel free to steal it! But first, two words of advice from someone who has been there and made mistakes:
- Avoid warm-ups that might assume everyone comes to work with the same lens or upbringing—we don’t, and that’s the way we like it! But questions like “what was your college major?” or “how do you celebrate Christmas?” imply some pretty specific backgrounds and traditions.
- Beware of questions that are just too hard to answer. As somebody who is, gulp, not that into music, I was one of the many folks who were stumped trying to choose just one album to listen to for the rest of my life. Our takeaway: Don’t try to dig into everyone’s life philosophy; keep these conversations fast and easy (and not too personal).
With that, here’s a list of some of our favorite warm-up questions. And if starting your meetings with these prompts sounds like your cup of tea, we’re hiring!
- What’s your secret superpower?
- What was your first concert?
- What movie have you seen the most times in theaters?
- What’s making you happy this week?
- Is a hotdog a sandwich? (steel yourself for a heated debate with this one!)
- You have your own late night talk show, who do you invite as your first guest?
- If you could instantly pick up a new skill, what would it be?
- What TV show would you bring back for one more season?
- What breed of dog would you be? (and then prepare for cat people to have a friendly revolt to this one)
- If you could have any artist—dead or alive—create a work of art just for you, who would you commission?
Have other favorites to add to the list? Let us know @mrcampaigns!