By Brian Cole Miller
Quick Meeting Openers for Busy Managers is exceptionally well organized so readers can find what they need. Given the book’s apparent simplicity, readers may question paying the suggested retail price of $17.95 for obvious ideas. However, the value of author Brian Cole Miller’s writing is that he presents these ideas as if you were thinking them up yourself (but you didn’t).
The book’s sections discuss grouping the people; breaking the ice; and organizing the activities for small, large, and huge groups. A few of the grouping ideas are repetitive. For example, Miller has several different ideas for groups of two, three, or more people, but for each he suggests to start with a count-off to break into groups. It would have been more valuable if he had given several alternatives, and I found this and other repetitive examples boring. Nevertheless, they are a small part of the book.
Miller presents activities in an easy-to-understand recipe format. They are interesting and some are quite entertaining. One meeting opener called SURVIVOR was interesting in that, after introductions, the two best-of-something (anything) people are voted out of their teams and forced to join different teams and to start over with introductions.
I would not call these activities “quick,” as the book’s title extols. Most activities take about 20 minutes too long for short meetings. Such activities are only appropriate for half-day or longer meetings when individuals do not know one another, groups are brought together for the first time, or they are part of team-building exercises. A more accurate albeit less catchy title for the book might be: Twenty-Minute Activities for Groups of People Who Need to Be Introduced to One Another.
I am considering using Miller’s activities at a conference where people are brought together by a common theme, but may not know one another well. I strongly recommend Quick Meeting Openers for team-building scenarios.