8 Tools to Check Out Before Your Next Team Meeting

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Team meetings usually go one of two ways: epic or boring. Within the first five minutes, you can usually tell which way it's going to go. Is everyone checked out? Looking at their phones? Tapping away on their laptops? Physical presence does not indicate mental engagement. So before you have your next brainstorm session, check out these 8 tools. They'll bring structure, excitement and engagement to your meetings for sure.

1. Large Basket

This one may seem like an odd item to begin with, but it can make a big impact. All you need is a simple basket. As people are coming into the room, tell them to place all their electronics in the basket. It's non-negotiable. If they want to contribute ideas to the meeting, they must put their stuff in the basket. If someone has an issue so pressing that they can't give up immediate access to info via their laptop or phone, then they don't need to be in the meeting. Use common sense but be strict about the rule. As soon as one person looks down at their phone to check a text or opens their laptop to respond to an email, the morale and momentum of your meeting can really start to go down hill.

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2. Timer Timer

You don't like having to play time cop, right? This tool ensures you don't have to. This nifty little clock keeps everyone on schedule, plus the awareness of how much time is remaining keeps people engaged and focused. It's a great method to make the most of every minute. Bonus: it ensures that louder team members don't dominate the conversation.

3. Tomato Timer

If you aren't able to order a physical clock, the tomato timer is a great tool too. Not only will it let you track against the standard 25-minute Pomodoro method, you can also use it to take 5 and 10 minute breaks. You could use these smaller increments for team breakout sessions too.

4. Brand deck

How many times has your team headed to thesaurus.com during a content brainstorm? While I'm all about some Merriam-Webster, the brand deck helps you move faster in a focused fashion. This tool helps you narrow down on everything from your tone & voice to your messaging pillars. It's a great way to kickstart a meeting on branding conversations too.

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5. Agility Ladder

This one may seem a little weird, but hear me out. This requires some extra prep work so plan for that extra time. Stretch the ladder out on your meeting room floor. Put different ideas, topics or thought starters on a piece of paper in between each rung on the ladder. When your team shows up have everyone line up in front of the ladder. Everyone has to toss out a thought about the item they're lined up with. Write the ideas down then have everyone shift to the next rung. It's a great method for fast brainstorming.

6. NeuYear Giant Wall Calendar

When you're planning, it helps to see timing in one large snapshot. From planning team outings to scheduling content to thinking about important milestones for your customers, the NeuYear Calendar is a great seamless calendar. They even have dry-erase versions if you need to ideate and try things out on a schedule during your meeting.

7. Post-it® Super Sticky Big Notes

Post-it® notes are to meetings what water is to swimming. Having a way that people can individually jot down their ideas is a big part of keeping people engaged. If you've noticed, this list is mainly non-digital. Keeping folks focused during meetings involves engaging their minds and bodies. With these gigantic sticky notes, they can do sketches, make lists and doodle. Plus, they stick to the wall when it's time to share ideas.

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8. Artefact Cards

When your ideas need a little more weight to them, Artefact Cards are a great option. They can be moved around on the table if you're sorting out navigation. They can be stuck to the wall. They work fantastic with markers, and they can even be color-coded. It's a good way to finalize ideas as you progress through brainstorming. They can even be used as a sturdy way to carry ideas from one meeting to the next. 

Please note: I was not endorsed, sponsored or compensated to mention any of these products. These product selections are my opinion. 

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