Merge's Blog

Want better team meetings? Think about the first five minutes

better team meetingsJoel Hilchey is a keynote speaker, an author and a fun-at-work expert.  I knew that his advice on how to create more fun at work would be of interest to all of you.  He is also my professional colleague and friend.  Which is a good thing, because when I asked him to write a guest post for the blog, he agreed instantly!  His topic today is about better team meetings.  Here is what he has to say about how to make your staff meetings more engaging, relevant, and well … fun!

If you want better team meetings, think about … the first five minutes

The First Five Minutes

very successful movie-maker knows something that most managers ignore.

I’ll make you a bet, and I think I’ll win. Think of your favourite movie. Picture the opening sequence. A chase scene? The crime that sets up the mystery? Maybe a quirky character reveal or a cinematic setting? Whatever it is, I’ll bet you this: It’s probably interesting!

It’s hard to like something with a bad opening; the first few minutes set the tone for the whole movie.

If you’re a manager that leads meetings, take a lesson from movie-makers: Make the opening good!   I’ve come to think about this as “The First 5 Minutes.”

“No problem!” You say, “I run the most efficient, agenda-centric meetings ever. Never waste a moment!”

But here’s the insight: DON’T jump right into your agenda. Start by talking as humans. Five minutes of rapport building will pay huge dividends in productivity.

Why does this small action lead to better team meetings? Connecting as people helps us find common ground and shared interests. It builds trust, which increases honesty, openness, and cooperation. Collaboration goes up. Cohesion goes up. Retention goes up.

So how should you plan The First 5 Minutes? Think like a filmmaker: Make it interesting!

Here are some easy places to start

Need some starter ideas? Here are 4 no-prep templates:

  1. Invite a round of (book, podcast, movie, band, game, etc.) recommendations.
  2. “Rose & Thorn” – Have people share a good thing and bad thing from the past (day, week, month).
  3. Ask if anyone wants to share a riddle.
  4. “Shout Outs & High-Fives” – Invite people to share some gratitude and recognition for their teammates.

Sound awkward? Keep it low pressure and light. Tell people they can pass if they want.

Worried they’ll judge YOU as inefficient? Front-load by telling them you were feeling bored and wanted to change things up – just for today, just for fun. (Frankly, work-issues almost always pop-up anyways, so it likely won’t even FEEL inefficient.)

Don’t think you’ve got 5 minutes to spare? Zoom out a bit here.   

You’ll save time today by getting better collaboration, which makes meetings faster AND more useful.

You’ll save time next week in your one-on-one’s when you’ve already built stronger personal connections.

And you’ll save time next year when you DON’T have to onboard a whole new batch of replacement employees.

Be a boss that people want to work with by showing you can care about both the agenda AND the individuals in the room. Just have better team meetings!

If you’d like to learn more about Joel and what he does for his clients, visit his website at

I’d love to know what you think about what Joel has suggested.  Like the ideas?  Hate them?  Share your perspectives including why you feel the way you do by adding a Comment below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.