A good meeting agenda and format is functional and efficient. It can be tempting to find a format that seems to work and stick with it FOREVER. Why mess with a good thing, after all? While it can be nice to know what to expect and staffers may seem to appreciate the predictability, they may also be tuning out what is being discussed at meetings. Changing the format of meetings often or periodically can keep people interested and paying attention and this makes for productive staff.
Interesting meetings do not have to include catered meals and dancing, but they do need to take into account the individuals participating. Are they staffers who have busy schedules and need efficiently run meetings? Are they employees who do not meet very often and need time to catch up and discuss topics and issues? Other types of meetings such as board meetings, committee meetings, etc. may demand other types of agendas'”all depending on what needs to get done and the demographic of those attending.
Variations in the meeting format are not excuses to be disorganized. It is still important to have an agenda and to make sure that topics are covered well and efficiently'”but who says that you have to go in the same order every single time? And who says that the same person has to facilitate the meetings every time? Consider a rotating facilitator, or moving the meetings to different locations. Another way to encourage interest is to have outside presenters or invite guests to the meeting'”staffers are likely to be on their best behavior and try to impress if there are visitors at the meeting.
If you have been using the same meeting format for centuries (or even a couple years), consider shaking things up and making changes. You just may find that attendance, participation and outcomes all improve.