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Building Your Annual Meeting

First Steps

1. Define the results you are seeking to achieve by the end of the meeting, allow that to drive a theme for the event.

2. Reach out to your teams to get their input on what they would like included.

3. Develop the plan: 50% working sessions; 25% Social sessions; 25% team building /inspirational sessions.

4. Secure interesting locations.

5. Take time to breathe, step back, review.

Working Sessions Are Best When Designed in Small Bites with Regular Breaks:

By allowing people to break every 30-45 min. Participants are given a chance to let their brains reset and recharge. Studies have shown that stress builds up when we attend back-to-back meetings. In as little as two hours, stress levels increase enough to negatively impact cognitive processes and our ability to retain/process new information.

Scheduling even 5-10 breaks into your meetings allows participants to be more relaxed and productively engaged.

“Walk and Talk- Fresh air leads to fresh ideas.” -Nilofer Merchant (Ted Talk)

Session Suggestions


Cook A Meal Together: One of my clients has a staffer who is an Amateur Chef. Every year as a part of their annual meeting, he teaches his team how to cook a special menu. After, they all sit together and enjoy what they created. No business conversation allowed.

You may not have a chef on board, but you can hire one, or get creative with the skills your team has to offer. Aim for events that encourage conversation and sharing. - painting "class"

- beer/wine tasting - knitting ...

Road Trip: If this is a several days adventure, and the budget allows take the meeting on the road.

If you are all staying local be a tourist in your own backyard for a few hours.


- In a community garden

- Assemble care packages

- Organize a public clean-up

- Or take this time to plan a larger team-wide charity event


Bring in a speaker(s) who can address the vision you and your team have defined for this meeting.

TED TALKS and TED X’s under 30 min:


Eddie Obeng - Smart Failure for a Fast-Changing World (12.37 min.)

Rocio Lorenzo- How Diversity Makes Teams More Innovative (10.45 min.)

Shonda Rhimes- My Year of Saying Yes to Everything (18.44 min.)

Dan Pink - The Puzzle of Motivation (18.36 min.)


Melissa Marshall - Talk Nerdy to Me (4.17 min.)


Kelly McGonigal - How to Make Stress Your Friend (14.16 min.)

(not actually a TED TALK but great just the same link )


Stacy Flowers - The Five People You Need to be Happy (18.21 min.)

Elizabeth Gilbert - Success Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating (7.18 min.)

Team building/inspirational crossover: Break into groups and have each group assigned a Ted Talk (under 30 min.) After having the small teams report out their learnings and how to your business.

Team Building

Ask a Meaningful Question. (Inspire a meaningful conversation) :

As a team, have everyone answer the same single question. Add a timer that both requires they speak for at least 2-min, no longer the 5 (you decide the times)

There are so many possible questions, you want to be probative enough to spark an understanding, to allow the players insight into how others on the team think or feel, but not so personal that they are invasive.

Some examples:

-What makes you feel Inauthentic? (Or when do you feel you're most authentic?) -

-Who was your most influential role model? why?

- If you did not work here what would your dream job be?

Puzzles, as a competitive sport:

Incorporate physical puzzles. or mind teasers, then set up in teams to compete against each other/ against time. Award prizes, silly or substantial depending on your team dynamic.


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