What Escape Rooms Can Teach Us About Conducting Effective Meetings

As companies transition employees into their version of the new normal working environments, I’ve noted more discussions about people’s eagerness to engage in in-person meetings on a semi-regular basis. I, myself long for the day when I can engage and present to audiences in their live, three-dimensional human forms on a regular basis.

Our in-person meetings did provide participants to engage in nuanced behaviors such as turning to smile or share a few words with the person sitting next to you as you observe and react to subtle changes in expression and body language, and maybe even share a meal.

However, we also need to take this opportunity to pause and remember what some poorly managed in-person, unnecessarily long meetings were like. In full transparency, I confess that in many meetings I practiced a form of mindfulness before I even knew that was a thing, or I witnessed colleagues playing meeting word bingo and counting ceiling tiles. I experienced the cruelty of hope when a long-winded presenter put his pen down and paused for a minute. I also know I planned a significant part of my life under the guise of copious note-taking.

The resurfaced memories that inform my examples represent many de-energizing experiences and hours of wasted time. Moving forward into the New Workplace Meeting Normal without taking time to take a realistic, “lessons learned” backward look would represent a missed opportunity for us to manage and improve our business meeting rituals.

In our culture, we believe in consulting with an expert when we are about to embark on a new initiative. I believe that we can learn from the trained professionals who design and manage Escape Room concepts.

I’ve gathered a few Escape Room Principles for your review and consideration

  1. There is a clear goal – The organizers know that you have determined that this experience is a meeting you want and need to have and have supplied you with a clear, concrete goal.
  2. You learn to work as a team – Gathering together will accomplish nothing unless the
    participants make unique contributions and work as a team
  3. Focused attention is must – Participants are asked to not use their mobiles and these engaging planned, experiences make it impossible for a member to zone out.
  4. Being trapped is an illusion – In reality, there are no locks. The trapped illusion is created in the mind
  5. People are observing you on camera – Yes, monitoring your attendees to make
    sure they have what they require to move forward and out is a key meeting
    planning tool. And to paraphrase the iconic Marine quote – “Never leave a
    participant behind”

Julienne B. Ryan is the author of The Learned-It-In-Queens Communications Playbook – Winning Against Digital Distraction” and an applied, narrative storyteller, speaker, trainer, and coach. She is on a mission to improve how we communicate with each other, one authentic conversation at a time. Click on this link to learn about her services.