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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

Why Funny Cat Videos Are the Secret to Better Meetings at Work

Imagine a world in which meetings were not soul-sucking time blocks that made you want to prick yourself with a thumbtack just to make sure you were still alive and left you feeling like you just wasted an hour of your life.

But rather, they were productive sessions that helped push projects forward, created helpful collaborations among colleagues, and were generally fun.

Good news: Science says it’s possible. Tell me more, science.

Apparently, humor may be the best medicine and the reason that some meetings are more productive than others. According to a recent study from the Journal of Applied Psychology that was covered in Science of Us (worth the full read), meetings laced with jokes and light banter were often more productive than their dull meeting counterparts.

The idea is that if people are laughing and genuinely having fun, they’ll be more open to ideas and collaboration. Or, as the author reports: “This fits with the broaden-and-build model of positive states, where a good mood opens us up to other people and different ideas—all useful in a collaborative context.”

Now, before you go getting any odd ideas: We aren’t suggesting you turn your next meeting into an amateur hour stand-up comedy event. That would probably produce more cringe-worthy moments than funny ones anyway.

Instead, focus on creating open, casual meetings where people feel naturally happy to be there. The obvious way to do this is by working with people you already really like. But if that’s not the case (and we imagine for most of you it’s not), then try something else.

For example, only have a meeting if it’s truly necessary. Nothing puts people in a bad mood more than going to a meeting that they already know will be a waste of time. At The Muse, we have weekly standing meetings. But if there is nothing that needs actual discussion or brainstorming from people in a room together, we cancel it and send updates via email, instead, so everyone gets that time back.

Or, try something totally different to start your meetings. At a previous company I worked for, we had a Monday morning meeting in which everyone was grumpy and not in a talking mood. So, we created a new rule. Everyone had to bring one short (less than 60 seconds), funny YouTube video to play for the group. It became a badge of honor to bring the funniest video, but more importantly, it put everyone in a much more positive mood.

Regardless of what you do, try to lighten up. Meetings will be more fun and productive if you take them a little less seriously.

Photo of Wikimedia Commons.