How to Run a Meeting People Actually Want to Attend

decorated shoe

Have you ever sat in on a meeting and thought, “Wow, this is not fun?” (Join the crowd!) It’s fair to say much of the time, meetings can be downright boring.

When I was elected as the Georgia Art Education Association President, I made it my goal to never host a “bored” meeting. Through my experience, I discovered what worked in terms of motivating meeting attendees whether they were educators, administrators, department chairs, or state art education association members.

Here are 5 tips for creating memorable meetings.

collaborative painting

1. Create a theme.

Consider how effective it is to have a prompt or theme when you create art. Now, imagine you are invited to a meeting with the theme of “Collaboration.” You immediately have an idea about what will be discussed and what you will do. Perhaps you’ll be participating in team building activities and not sitting for hours. It might even mean your voice will be heard!

This idea is powerful. Creating a theme for your attendees gives them a sense of what is to come and makes them excited to attend your meeting.

2. Develop a hands-on activity.

As art educators, we love to doodle and draw and make our marks. So, why not consider having the members of your organization or school do a collaborative or individual project that works into the theme of the meeting? Here are a few ideas:

Create a Collaborative Mural

Have each member trace their hand. Then, have them decorate their hands using zentangles and a word that describes them. The finished hands can go home or be exhibited in a group mural. Imagine how your school or community would enjoy seeing this mural created by the team.

Meaningfully Decorate an Object

decorated shoe

If your theme is about growth or new learning, consider making a connection to seeds or planting. One idea would be to have meeting attendees doodle their notes onto individual mini plaster planters using permanent markers. The designs can be about the importance of planting seeds and cultivating ideas to make for stronger organizations or schools. You might even consider planting seeds! Take photos, share them with the group, and post them somewhere in your school.

Or, let’s say you’re discussing the direction your school is heading. Get a mid-sized toy vehicle to which people can add their marks during your discussion. The final piece can be shared in a display case prompting others to consider where they’re headed!

One more idea is to give each member a pair of plastic sunglasses and paint pens and have them paint their visions of where they are headed. Or, better yet, how they can help the organization or school achieve their ultimate vision. Take photos of these artsy sunglasses to share with the community! You might even encourage everyone to put them on and take selfies as they write a tag line about their vision for the future.

Take it to the Next Level

After my term as president, we created a billboard campaign across the state. We took many of these hands-on artworks and turned them into advocacy boards. We included text, along with the images, to help showcase the importance of giving every child a visual arts education.

3. Bring snacks!

person dipping pita chip into dip

As the old saying goes, “If you feed them, they will come!” So, consider having snack helpers at each of the meetings. You could encourage them to stick with the theme, or just encourage them to bring crowd-pleasing favorites like cheese and crackers or a veggie tray. We actually started to have people beg to be the snack helpers because they had creative ideas for snacks inspired by the theme of the upcoming meeting.

4. Make sure to involve everyone.

Have you ever attended a meeting and just sat there like an invisible being? It’s not fun. If people are coming to your meetings, be sure to include them! You may even want to start referring to them as “our meetings.” Requiring folks to submit their information early will make the organizer’s job much easier. But don’t just leave it at that. Hear their voices and applaud them for being a part of the team!

5. Have FUN!

Personally, when I think about having fun, it always involves music. Starting each meeting with a song can help set the tone. When folks walk into a meeting room or an auditorium and music is playing, it just feels good. If you have a theme, think about what songs might tie in, and play them throughout the day. You might even encourage your members to write an inspiring song or one that acknowledges another team member in some way. And don’t forget to end the meeting with a song, too. The goal is for your members to leave feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and inspired!

I hope these ideas help to spark a few ways in which you can take your next meeting to the next level. Consider how you can engage your participants by making them feel appreciated, acknowledged, and accepted!

How do you currently run your team meetings or board meetings?

How can you take these ideas to help inspire your administration to host meaningful and fun faculty meetings?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Debi West

Debi West is one of AOEU’s adjunct instructors and a former AOEU Writer and NBCT art educator. She loves sharing with others and enthusiastically stands behind her motto, “Together we ART better!”

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