Fun and productive meetingsWork meetings play an important part in any business and can take up a large amount of the business day, so it is important that the time is used effectively. Making meeting enjoyable and productive encourage participation and creativity. Laughter can also be a great way to improve employee morale.

While the priority of any meeting isn’t to have fun, it’s about creating a productive atmosphere. Try some of the ideas we’ve come up at your next meeting.

  • Most people learn by doing. Whenever possible, include hands-on activities, demonstrations, role-playing, games etc. Mix it up and keep people interested.
  • Organise contests to generate ideas and offer prizes to encourage participation. A little friendly competition can bring great results.
  • Change some aspect of your meeting every twenty minutes: presentation style, questions and answers, use a panel discussion, small group breakouts, videos, team presentations, feedback, etc.
  • Take away the table or remove all the chairs in the meeting room, and hold the meeting standing up. This should help encourage creative ideas and get through the meeting quickly.
  • Take turns being the meeting facilitator and come up with a new activity.
  • During nice weather, hold all or part of the meeting outside. A change in environment and spark new ideas.

Do you have any tips for spicing up a boring meeting? Give us your best tips in the comments below.

At Silverstream Retreat we host a large number of meeting for both big corporate companies and small non-profit organisations. These tips have been prepared for people who are new to taking meeting minutes, we thought that some basic guidelines might help to get you started.

Meeting minutes are a legal record of meeting proceedings, so it’s important to make sure they are accurate. Minutes are a source of information for people who can’t attend the meeting and as a reference for future use.

Prepare for the meeting

  • Get a copy of the meeting agenda
  • Get a copy of any documentations that might be sent out with the agenda or passed out at the meeting
  • Find out the names of those attending the meeting including any guests or speakers

Taking the minutes – content

  • The type of meeting, regular (weekly, monthly) or special (annual)
  • The purpose of the meeting
  • Name of the organisation
  • Date, time and place of the meeting
  • The name of the Chairman and secretary
  • A list of all attendees and those who could not attend
  • Whether the minutes of the previous meeting were approved or had any corrections made
  • All the main motions including the attendee making the motion, action to be taken, next steps and voting outcomes.
  • Items to be held over for the next meeting
  • Next meeting date time and place
  • Time of adjournment.

Writing the minutes

  • Writing the minutes as soon as possible after the meeting while still fresh in your mind
  • Be clear and concise
  • Follow the order of the agenda
  • Proofread the minutes.


  • Ensure the Chairman has reviewed the minutes before distributing
  • Distribute a copy of the minutes to the attendees and those who sent apologies
  • Store the minutes for future reference
  • The minutes need to be revised, corrected and approved at the next meeting.








Be prepared for your next conference or seminar

By attending a conference or seminar we gain new skills, find out the trends in our area and network with people.

Before attending the conference make sure you read through the agenda and any other pre-conference information, prioritise the sessions you want to attend. Prepare any questions you may want to ask speakers or exhibitors.

Remember to take plenty of business cards there are always plenty of opportunities when you’re meeting new contacts. When you receive a business card, it’s a good idea to make a quick note about that person on the back of the card so you can remember them in the future. It’s also a good idea to bring paper, pen, highlighter, camera and snacks.

Make sure you are on time, there’s nothing worse than arriving late and having to sit at the back or having an obstructed view, this is also good time to introduce yourself and meet more people.

At the conference, get involved and make yourself approachable. Make sure you practice your introduction, first impressions are important. Describe your business and briefly explain your role.

Be available for the social events, a lot of conferences include cocktail parties and dinners. These events are always a great opportunity to meet new people and network in a relaxed atmosphere.

Most of all relax and enjoy yourself.


How to create a Facebook Event

Whether it’s a marketing event, product launch, party or fundraiser, the Facebook Event application is a free, effective way to promote an event and reach a wide audience. It is a great way to encourage people to engage, post on your wall and invite other friends.

The Facebook Event application is quick and simple to set up.

    • Click Events on the left side of your homepage.


    • Click Create in the centre or on the left side under My Events.


    • Fill in the event name, details, location and time, and then choose your privacy settings. Keep in mind that you must include an event name and time.
    • Click Invite Friends to add friends to the guest list. Check the names of the people you want to invite and then click Save.


  • Click Create.
  • You’ll be taken to your event where you can share posts, upload photos, invite more guests and edit event details.

For more details about creating an event and additional information like adding a place, weather information and sending messages to event guests visit Facebook Events.

Ways to promote your Facebook Event

  1. Create a registration page on your website, you can then direct traffic from your Facebook Event to the site. Here you can have more information about the event.
  2. Update your Facebook cover photo with an image that promotes the event and then include a link to the registration page on your website.
  3. Share the Event on your Facebook timeline, include a link to the Event page and add a call to action such as ‘Register Now’. Images draw the most attention so make sure you use an eye catching image promoting the event.
  4. Keep followers updated with information about speakers, discounts, competitions or pictures of the event preparation.
  5. If you have speakers or presenters at the event you can tag them in your post and encourage them to talk about the event.
  6. Give away tickets and create a buzz around the event. You can give away tickets by running a contest on your page, ‘like this post and be in to win free tickets’.
  7. Post videos from past events, tag guests and business that are in the videos. Videos attract more attention than text posts.
  8. Include a link to your Facebook Event page in your email signature.
  9. As the event date approaches post reminders for guests that have register and create some urgency for those that haven’t registered ‘Tickets selling fast’.

Go-GreenMake environmentally responsible choices for meetings and events

Planning a meeting or event while reducing its environmental impact can be quite overwhelming. Greening your meeting or event not only saves our planet but saves money, energy and can help local communities.

Here are some tips you can apply to your next meeting or event:

  1. Use a paperless system – Email meeting agendas; create a website where people can register online and then email confirmation.
  2. Use recycled paper – If printing is required have all printed materials published on recycled paper, using vegetable based inks, and on both sides of the page.
  3. Meet close – Reduce traveling distances and chose venues with accommodation onsite.
  4. Use local suppliers- This potentially means lower transport costs and emissions.
  5. Manage waste – Provide bins for compostables and recyclable.
  6. Promote transport options – Offer a bus service to the venue for attendees or encourage people to organise a car pool.

Greener Events Guide

Ministry of the Environment – Greener Events Guide

United Nations Environmental Programme – Sustainable Events Guide

Common food restrictions and allergies

Silverstream Retreat is committed to meeting the needs of guests who have special dietary restrictions (such as a food allergy, intolerance or other medically restricted diet) and recognises that many of our guests may also adhere to a vegetarian or vegan diet. The Silverstream Retreat Function Manager can safely and reasonably guide event planners in making menu selections which can accommodate their guests.

Below is a basic outline to provide some knowledge into the most common restrictions and allergies. We have not included religious food restrictions as they are vast and complex.

 Gluten free (Celiac)

Gluten is a protein found in all forms of wheat (including durum, semolina, and spelt), rye, oats and barley. When people with celiac disease consume gluten, the absorptive villi in the small intestine are damaged, preventing the absorption of many important nutrients. The long-term effect of untreated celiac disease can be life threatening. However, with a completely gluten-free diet, the intestinal lining will heal completely allowing most patients to live a normal, healthy life as long as they remain free of gluten in their diet. Even a small amount of gluten can cause symptoms to reoccur.

Gluten is hidden in many unsuspecting foods such as liquorice, soy sauce, vinegar, some flavourings, most processed foods, self-basting turkeys, some cold cuts, and many prepared stocks and soups. It’s also used as a binder in some pharmaceutical products and can be the starch in unidentified food starch, modified food starch, caramel colouring, and vegetable protein. Avoid products where the ingredients are of questionable origin or are listed as simply “natural flavourings, flavour extracts, or spice extracts.”

Products to be avoided in any form are;

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Oats
  • Spelt, semolina, millet, buckwheat
  • Couscous, kamut
  • Commercial salad dressing
  • Instant coffee, malted milk
  • Canned stock, soup
  • Avoid white vinegar, beer, ale and anything made from grain alcohol
  • Curry powders, dry seasoning, some gravy mixes
  • Oil that was previously used for frying breaded foods
  • Canned tuna (except tuna containing only water and salt)


There are several types of diabetes. The most common are type 1 and type 2. In type 1, the pancreas makes little or no insulin. Individuals with type 1 need insulin injections in order to stay alive. Type 1 can occur at any age, but is usually seen in children and young adults.

With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces some insulin. Type 2 diabetes need insulin to regulate their blood glucose, while others respond well to diet therapy and exercise alone, or a combination of diet, exercise and oral medication.

Starches (pastas, rice, bread, cake, potatoes, corn, etc.), fruit and milk are high in carbohydrates. Once in your body, they break down into your cells’ preferred form of energy glucose. Insulin is needed to help your cells take in the glucose. With diabetes, your insulin cannot do this task properly. A diabetic diet helps you schedule your carbohydrate intake so that your cells can get the glucose that they need. Consuming too many carbohydrates – containing foods can raise your blood glucose way above normal; eating too few, can hurt your body by denying it the high quality energy that it needs. The timing of your meals is also important. The more that you eat at one meal, the more insulin you will need to utilize the energy from the breakdown of those foods. If you eat smaller portions throughout your day, you will not need as much insulin to bring down your blood sugar.

There are many types of diabetic diets. Some require a lot of measuring; some don’t require any measuring at all. All are planned to provide you with the proper balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat, along with vitamins, minerals, fibre and other nutrients needed to keep you healthy. It would pay to have the guest give you some guide lines to what would be a suitable meal.

Medical and food allergies

True food allergies come in various forms. It can be a slight case such as a headaches or a rash to a certain product to some causing severe reactions, including death. The most common individual food allergies include those to peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, pecans etc), fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, soy, corn and wheat. If you are given information a guest has a food allergies to a product make sure you consider all the ingredients used in the meal being served. Read the ingredients on the packet of any products used in the guest’s meal.

Do not ever think that “little bit should not matter”. Allergies can kill!

Milk Allergies and Lactose intolerant (dairy free)

Lactose intolerance is the inability to properly digest milk sugar, also known as lactose. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include abdominal bloating, gaseousness, flatulence, cramping, and diarrhoea following the consumption of food containing dairy products or by products. Milk protein allergy is an allergic reaction to proteins commonly found in cow’s milk. It is caused by your immune system reacting because it believes the protein in the milk is a threat to your body. Your immune system will do it’s best to get rid of the invader, just as it would a foreign virus or poison. During the allergic reaction your body releases histamine, a chemical which causes blood vessels to dilate and leak, mucous membranes to start producing skin rashes, vomiting and other effects.

Rice milk and soy milk and tofu are excellent substitutes. Avoid any dairy products such as butter, cheese, some margarines, cream and milk powders.


Lacto-ovo Vegetarians eat dairy foods and eggs as well as plant foods. They do not eat the following;

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish

Ovo-vegetarians eat only eggs and plant foods. They do not eat the following;

  • Dairy foods
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish

Lacto-vegetarian eats dairy foods and plant foods. They do not eat;

  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish

Vegans eat only plant foods and products. They do not eat any;

  • Animal foods
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products


Harvard University

Conference trends in 2013 and what to expect for 2014

We can’t believe its December already, we’ve had a busy year at Silverstream Retreat. Hosting a large number of events from small meetings and intimate dinners to large conferences and award ceremonies. We thought this was a good time to reflect on the changes we have noticed in the events held at Silverstream Retreat in 2013.

Technology and social media has made an impact this year in terms of marketing strategies, developing online communities, tweeting and sharing photos. Instead of being told to turn off your mobile devices at conferences and events, people are being encouraged to leave them on (switched to silent or course).

Tablets are being used more often, not just by attendees connecting to social media but for event organises needing quick access to information.

Online event registration seems to be fairly standard, with most companies having registration forms on their websites, some with standalone websites just for the event.

We predict that in 2014 video conferencing is going to become more popular. With the availability of state-of-the-art programmes video conferencing means that people who can’t attend a meeting or conference can connect from different geological locations.

2014 is going to be an exciting year we already have a number of great events booked in. If you have any questions about conferences in the Wellington region or have anything to add to our 2013 trends, get in touch today.

Team building activities

Team building activities can be used at a conference or meeting for various reasons, including: Improving communication, boosting morale, motivation, ice breakers to help get to know each other better, learning effective strategies, improving productivity, learning about one’s strengths and weaknesses and many others.

Stereotype party

This is a fun exercise for a medium to large group. Write on name tags many different ‘personality types (see the list below), and pin or tape one tag to each person’s back. Don’t show people which tag is on their back – they’ll be able to see everyone else’s tag, but not their own. Now, ask each person to figure out which personality type is on his or her back by asking stereotype-based questions of other people – “Am I a man?” “Am I an athlete?” “Am I an entertainer?” and so on. Allow group members to answer only yes or no, and encourage participants to ask questions to as many different people as possible.

Here are some personality types you could consider:

  • Auto mechanic.
  • Olympic medallist.
  • Professor.
  • Fast-food restaurant worker.
  • Postal worker.
  • Movie star.

Paper tearing game

Participants each get a sheet of A4 paper and have to close their eyes during the exercise. As the instructor you have to participate along and pause after each instruction to give everyone a chance to complete the action. Here are the basic directions – Fold your sheet of paper in half, tear off the upper right-hand corner, fold it in half again and tear off the upper left hand corner of the sheet, fold it in half again and tear off the lower right-hand corner of the sheet. Now everyone can open their eyes and observe the differences. This exercise is a great way to challenge basic assumptions, encourage participation and create awareness of the importance of two-way communication.

A truth and a lie

Have each member introduce themselves by stating their name plus one truth about themselves and one lie. After each person makes their statements, allow for open conversation where everyone questions each other on their two statements. The idea is to convince the other members that your lie is actually a truth, while guessing the truths/lies of the others. After the questioning period, vote as a group on each member’s statements. Points are awarded for each lie guessed right or for stumping other members on your own lie. This exercise helps to get to know your co-workers better and encourages group interaction and communication.

The mine field

The idea behind this exercise is to improve team members trust, their relationship, and to communicate in a more effective way. You will need an open space such as an empty room or hallway in which you will distribute ‘mines’ that are placed haphazardly around the area. The ‘mines’ can be cones, balls, bottles etc. Team members are paired into teams of two. One team member will be blindfolded and the other can see and talk, but is not allowed to enter the field or touch their partner. The challenge is for the blind-folded person to walk from one side of the field to the other, avoiding the mines by listening to the verbal instructions of their partners.


Websites used as reference


Download our meeting agenda template

Running an effective meeting requires planning and preparation. Following on from our previous post ‘How to run an effective meeting’ we’ve created a meeting agenda template that you can download, fill-in and distribute to your meeting attendees.

Download our Fillable Meeting Agenda Template here.

Meeting agenda and preparation key to a successful meeting

Silverstream Retreat offer a wide variety of meeting facilities, from small intimate meetings to large high profile meetings. With our state-of-the-art multimedia facilities, superior lighting, air-conditioning and heating systems all set in a beautiful contemporary space.

For those of you who are planning a meeting we’ve put together information about running a meeting. Running an effective meeting can save time and help you achieve your goals. Having an agenda and meeting preparation in place can ensure the smooth running of a meeting.

Meeting Preparation

To ensure a smooth running and successful meeting:

  • Make sure an appropriate meeting time and meeting space is confirmed and any specific requirements such as presentation equipment or catering requirements are booked ahead.
  • A notice of the meeting should be sent out in advance to enable people to make arrangements to attend.
  • Documents such as the ‘Agenda’, most recent ‘Minutes’ and any other required reading should be sent to meeting attendees to give them time to read.

Meeting Roles and Processes

Meeting attendees should know ahead of the meeting what their roles are and what they need to do to ensure the meeting is a success.


This is the person responsible for facilitating the smooth running of meetings – they;

  • Guide the meeting procedure and make sure the meeting starts on time.
  • Welcome members and organise an appropriate opening, and introductions.
  • List any agreed ground rules.
  • Read and call for apologies.
  • Where appropriate, advise of housekeeping details eg. time and length of meeting breaks.
  • Keep to the agenda and time-frame.
  • Allow time at the beginning of the meeting to add additional items to the agenda.
  • Facilitate discussions and avoid introducing their own opinion unless it’s necessary.
  • Clarify ‘Actions’: ensure that it is clear what is to be done by whom and when.
  • Thank everyone for attending the meeting, offers appropriate closing words.

This is the person responsible for recording the ‘Minutes’– the record of meeting proceedings which should be recorded from the start of the meeting until it closes. Minutes should include all the agreed decisions and tasks from each meeting. The minute-taker does not record everything that is said; but they should record the following:

  • Meeting time, date and venue
  • Names of those present and any apologies
  • Name of meeting chair or facilitator and minute-taker.
  • Meeting purpose.
  • The matters for discussion, agreed action points or decisions made and person responsible for and completion dates for those actions
  • Date, time, venue and purpose of next meeting


Motions are a formal proposal for consideration by a meeting and would involve change to the current practice. If possible it is a good idea to put the motion in writing before the meeting, as the secretary must accurately record it. Motions normally start with the word ‘that’ and must be clear and unambiguous, i.e. ‘that $300.00 be spent on a microwave for the kitchen’. The name of the person who put forward the motion and the person seconding it must be recorded in the minutes.


The agenda outlines what will be covered in the meeting. People attending the meeting should have an opportunity to contribute to the agenda before the agenda is completed and sent out. This Agenda is usually prepared by the meeting Chairperson.

A sample Agenda
  1. Welcome and opening
  2. Apologies
  3. Minutes of the previous meeting
  4. Matters arising from the minutes
  5. Correspondence
  6. Matters arising from the correspondence
  7. Formal agenda Items
  8. General business
  9. Reports (financial etc…)
  10. Date for next meeting

Follow Up

After the meeting has finished, the following jobs need to be carried out:

  • Action plans and follow ups confirmed.
  • Minutes checked by the chair or facilitator and the minute-taker.
  • The time-frame for circulation of minutes, new reports, background papers, and the next agenda arranged
  • Minutes circulated


Information in this article was sourced from the following websites: