Written by Forbes Coaches Council
No one likes meetings for the sake of meetings. They disrupt workflow and leave you with the feeling that the organizer doesn’t appreciate your time. This begs the question, what can leaders do to run more engaging, effective meetings?
When you take the time to make meetings useful to those attending, engagement happens naturally. You can take this idea a step further by starting the meeting with an “attention-getter” and ending with specific action requirements for each person. According to members of Forbes Coaches Council, here are several more ways to successfully facilitate a meeting people want to attend:
1. Assign Pre-Work
Far more specific and effective than an agenda alone is assigning pre-work. Using pre-work regularly, managers will encourage preparation and engage employees. Pre-work can be simple: Ask participants to provide key solutions, suggestions or examples before the meeting that can be aggregated and presented live. Then the in-meeting discussion is richer and likely more efficient. - Sarah Beth Aubrey, A.C.T. Aubrey Coaching & Training
2. Adopt An “Everyone Plays” Mentality
Sick of being the only one talking for an entire meeting? Assign relevant roles, topics or updates that each participant (or most) can share with the group. With participants taking more of an active role, they are much more likely to pay attention and also feel empowered by the new responsibility. This can also be used as a professional developmental activity. It’s a win-win. - Jada Willis, Willis Professional Services
3. Make The Meeting Actionable
Send people the agenda and anything else they can read before the meeting so you can use the meeting to focus on what actions and decisions need to be made to move things forward. - Mike Ambassador Bruny, No More Reasonable Doubt
4. Cater To Different Learning Styles For A Winning Meeting
A successful team is made up of individuals with different strengths, talents and learning styles. When you lead a team meeting, taking those different learning styles into consideration can create an inclusive and participative environment. So don’t just talk and hit auditory styles, but instead also supply visuals, opportunities to interact and contribute, and ways for participants to stretch. - Laura DeCarlo, Career Directors international
5. Invite Fewer People
Limiting the meeting attendees to those who most need to be there will be double time saving for your staff. They don’t have to spend time in a non-essential meeting, and they can spend more time on essential work. Plus, it allows you to run more efficient and focused meetings with just the key stakeholders. - Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E
6. Treat It Like A Performance
Whether you’re thinking street performance (huddle) or full play (strategic planning), take a cue from performers: Think about your audience, practice ahead of time, remember set-up, plan your beats (items), and vary them so people don’t get lulled by the droning repetition of similar discussions. Engage others. Build suspense. Allow for conflict. Never bore. - Sally Fox, Engaging Presence
7. Open With A Bang
Start with a focused “attention getter” that will put your meeting in context. Before going over agenda or thank yous, ask a provocative question, state an interesting statistic, quote someone or tell a story. Make sure these connect to the “why” or bottom line of your meeting and address “what’s in it for them.” This will wake up the creative part of listeners’ minds and lead to more engagement. - Robyn Hatcher, SpeakEtc.
Whenever I run a meeting, the first thing I do is get everyone involved. Before I even create the structure for my meetings, I will reach out to my audience and ask for suggestions of topics they want to cover. This gets everyone prepared for the meeting and provides me with valuable ideas for my material. You will experience higher engagement and even head off potential issues before they arise. - Brett Baughman, The Brett Baughman Companies, Inc.
9. Give Everyone Time To Think
When you ask questions in a meeting some people need more time to think than others. I use this tactic when I have a question and want give everyone the opportunity to be heard. I ask attendees to take 1-2 minutes to jot some notes on how they would answer my question. I may even ask them to be prepared to be called on. I hear from more people and get a greater variety of responses. - Mary Schaefer, Artemis Path, Inc.
10. Make A Real-Time Agenda
Meetings are usually boring. Ignite the energy and what matters to people by asking, “What is most important to you right now in terms of team success?” Go around the room and have each person share their thoughts in 30 seconds or less. Write them down and have the team decide in what order the ideas have the most leverage, and then map out what it will take to accomplish them. Listen. - Tania Fowler, Interplay Coaching
11. Start With The End In Mind
At the beginning of any meeting, make the objective for coming together crystal clear. Usually one sentence rather than a lengthy agenda will suffice. Try, “At the end of this meeting we will decide… .” Or, “We are here to generate and evaluate options for… .” Add boundaries of time for each step in the process. Starting with the single objective will greatly increase the likelihood of achieving it. - Michelle Tillis Lederman, Executive Essentials
12. Always Review Decisions
Meetings include exploratory conversations, yet not everyone may know that information or have the responsibility to evaluate, assess and conclude. Any conclusions made need to be explicit to everyone there. Before adjourning each meeting, ask, “What did we decide today? Did we decide anything new? What is left on the table to decide later?” Get obvious clarity. - Jane Hundley, Impact Management Inc Coaching and Training
13. Start And End On Time
No one likes their schedule blown, including you. When you start on time and end on time consistently, people know what they can expect, and it shows that you respect their time as well. If there are pressing issues with individuals, arrange additional one-on-one meetings with those specific individuals. Always start and end on time. -Chris Robinson, R3 Coaching
14. Create A Parking Lot
Create a “parking lot” for items that arise that should either be discussed offline individually or at another meeting. This will help you stay on track to your agenda, be respectful of everyone’s time at the table, and allow you to remain in control of the meeting. Parked items can be sent out via email as action items post meeting or added to the next meeting agenda. - Jen Kelchner, Kelchner Advisory