Knowledge sharing and ideation meetings get your team up to speed on important issues, and help gather different perspectives. The trouble is, a one-size-fits-all approach in the form of a slide deck disregards the fact that people learn, absorb, and respond to information differently. It also makes meetings monotonous. Instead, explore these different formats and add some zest to your sessions.

Try the lightning talk

Good for: whittling down complex concepts into audience-friendly bites.

The lightning talk is based on a rule so simple it seems almost impossible: wrap up whatever you have to say in 5 minutes. As author Scott Berkun notes, when you whittle the concept down to its essence, you provide the audience clarity without losing their attention. Structure your knowledge session as a series of lightning talks. Or have it as the introduction of the session and leave the floor open for discussion. You could also invite experts/ other participants to add their perspective within these 5-minute chunks.

Dive into a Fish Bowl Session

Good for: bringing small-group style conversations into big groups.

If a large group, a debatable topic, and a lengthy presentation are on the cards, then a Fish Bowl Session is a smart option. Send the presentation to the participants beforehand, so they have time to read up. At the meeting, divide participants into two groups – the smaller, inner group or the fish discuss the topic at hand while the larger, outer group listens in. At any point in the discussion, if someone from the outer circle wishes to join in the fishbowl, he occupies an empty chair kept in the inner circle, and any one of the participants within the inner circle must voluntarily leave the fishbowl. As the moderator, you can summarize the discussions, introduce relevant points from the slide deck that you want covered, and refill the fishbowl.

Put together a premortem session

Good for: inviting ideas for impending launches.

Developed by noted psychologist Gary Klein, this method of critiquing does not discuss what could go wrong with a project. Instead, it assumes that the project has already failed and asks participants to come up with reasons for the failure. Faced with this proposition, people are freed from any feeling of disloyalty that crops up when asked what could go wrong with the project. They instead study the project in detail to come up with convincing reasons why it has failed. In the process, they become familiar with the project and offer valuable insights that can improve the prospects of success.

Find the formats interesting? Try them on for size and pick one that’s right for your meeting goals. Don’t forget to keep your audience profile in mind.

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