There’s always a meeting to organize or attend. Morning meetings. Weekly meetings. Team meetings. Project meetings. Board meetings. For those that attend them (and sometimes those that lead them) meetings are a dreaded time drain that most would rather avoid. But with a little thought and creativity, meetings can be less painful for all involved. Here are ten ideas for keeping participants engaged and attentive in both face-to-face and virtual meetings.
- Make sure you really need a meeting. Only call a meeting when there is enough information available or action to be taken. If you don’t have the right people, enough information, or a clear expected outcome, it’s okay to reschedule until you do.
- Communicate a clear purpose for the meeting. Let your attendees know why the meeting is important. One of the quickest ways to frustrate those invited to your meeting is to be ambiguous or cryptic about why you are meeting.
- Only invite people who need to be there. Inviting people who don’t really need to be there is a sure way to invite distraction. If it is a conference call you’ve invited them to you are creating an opportunity for multitasking.
- Have an agenda and share it in advance. You should set your agenda ahead of time. If you can, highlight specific things that attendees will be expected to report on or share.
- Set an engaging tone. Find a unique way to turn the usually boring introductions into an icebreaker. You’ll be able to create rapport among the group while setting an expectation that every one contributes.
- Keep your meetings as brief as possible. You should always consider people’s attention spans and pay attention to the body language of attendees during a meeting. If you see meeting members getting distracted, call an audible and take a 5 minute break or do a group stretch.
- Be a good facilitator. Don’t allow any one person to dominate the conversation. Hold back on leading with your opinion and focus on listening to the other members of the group.
- Solicit people’s ideas and perspective. It is especially valuable to ask for feedback in virtual meetings. When people are not sitting at a physical table, it’s harder to hear and get engaged. Ask questions every 5-7 slides if you are doing a presentation-style meeting.
- Use visuals. Whiteboards, flip charts, handouts, and slide decks are typical visual aids that help keep meeting attendees attentive. Consider using video conferencing or virtual meeting platforms for remote attendees.
- Turn brainstorming sessions into a game. Add more fun to your meeting by turning the brainstorming into a game. Have participants draw or act out their ideas instead of writing it down. Or work in teams to see who can come up with the most ideas or most creative solution.
Do you have any more tips to make meetings more valuable to a small business?
About the author:
Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is America’s #1 small business expert. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. She writes a weekly column on social media for The New York Times. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog; Melinda is also the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works.