A fun way to make meetings less mind-numbing

They’re no golden handcuffs, but these words and phrases could really move the needle on even the most mundane of office gatherings.


PR Daily readers spend an inordinate amount of time in meetings—and we all have similar complaints about those meetings.

As I wrote in a recent post, people in groups struggle to solve the same kinds of problems they are fully capable of solving on their own. In short, meetings make us stupid.

Though we might not be able to avoid meetings, there is a way to make those we attend less mind-numbing. In 2011, I wrote about a game called Word Quest. It’s a creative, brain-building exercise to be played at meetings. All you’ll need is an accomplice.

For Word Quest, you and your accomplice pick one business cliché—such as “move the needle”—and see who can be the first to use that term in a meeting. That person earns the most points. Bonus points are given if you get someone else (not your accomplice) to say the term in the meeting. Of course, you can give extra points for style when someone does a particularly good job working the term into the discussion.

Get started with these terms and sample sentences:

BHAG: a big hairy audacious goal.

Getting my boss past his dependence on PowerPoint has been my BHAG for two years.

Big ask: a request that may be nearly impossible to fulfill.

I know this is a big ask, but would you please learn the difference between “its” and “it’s”?

Bio-break: a short pause during a meeting to allow attendees to use the restroom (or more likely, check email).

Sorry, but we have time for only two bio-breaks today, so you’d better hit the restroom beforehand—and take your smartphone with you.

Bleeding edge: newer than new; further ahead than cutting edge.

This campaign is so bleeding edge that most consumers might not even understand it.

Boil the ocean: to waste your time attempting to do the impossible; making a project unnecessarily difficult.

Michael’s vision is brilliant, but implementing it in three weeks might be boiling the ocean.

Golden handcuffs: benefits offered to keep employees in otherwise problematic or unfulfilling jobs.

Cold-calling admittedly is an awful task, but we limit attrition because the hefty commissions serve as golden handcuffs.

Hard stop: the finite ending time of a meeting, get-together, or other interaction.

If Renee starts whining about the staffing in her department, we’ll have to put a hard stop on the conversation.

Move the needle: to make a significant difference in the direction desired.

Getting Arthur’s buy-in on the handling of job titles really moved the needle on the new style guide.

Pain point: a significant problem within an organization.

Customer service seems to be a pain point for the IT department.

Parking lot: to stop an off-topic discussion with the intention of returning to it another time.

Let’s parking lot any discussion of serial commas until after the meeting.

Sacred cow: an individual or project exempt from criticism.

I know this white paper is a sacred cow, but has anyone actually read it?

Shoot the puppy: to make an unthinkable but necessary decision.

We’re up against a pretty tight deadline. We may have no choice but to shoot the puppy.

Work/life balance: the balance between the demands of professional and personal responsibilities.

You know it’s a crap shoot when the HR department starts talking about work/life balance.

Bonus Round:

Try and use as many of these terms in one sentence as possible.

This meeting to discuss our department’s pain points will have a hard stop at 7 p.m. with no bio breaks and no parking lotting, and I don’t want to hear a word about work/life balance.

Care to share your own Word Quest terms?

Laura Hale Brockway is the author of the writing, editing, and random thoughts blog impertinentremarks.com.

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