Imagine if Everyone Looked Forward to Team Meetings. Here’s How to Make it Happen

Most surveys reveal that employees and managers alike consider team meetings boring time wasters. Yet, we know that a culture of communication is imperative to achieve your company's goals and vision. And we know that face-to-face communication is most constructive. The answer is not to ban meetings altogether; it's to make them more engaging and beneficial.

Why do your team meetings fall flat?

  • Is your content stimulating? Meetings with boring content are longer than necessary and won't get engagement.
  • Participant engagement is essential; boring topics and a single person doing all the talking does not invite others to engage.
  • Most people admit to multitasking in meetings, but it sends a message of disinterest, which spreads like a loud yawn. Ask everyone to put their devices on the do not disturb mode and keep them face down, Use them only for content related to your topics.
  • Going off-topic is taboo. Don’t let anyone hijack the meeting and bore other attendees. Or worse, leave people feeling left out.
  • You'll lose your audience if someone monopolizes the conversation and drives their point home repeatedly.

How to nail your next team meeting.

  • Ask yourself if a team meeting is necessary and invite only those who need to be there.
  • Send an agenda ahead of time, along with questions for discussion.
  • Appoint someone to begin the meeting and start right on time. If you chronically run late, assign a team member to get things going.
  • Start your meeting with an icebreaker. This may seem counterproductive in keeping your discussion on point and on time, but it increases engagement. I have a client who brings a lightweight ball to her meetings and asks each team member to announce a win. This could be something they've accomplished, are grateful for, or looking forward to. Then the person randomly tosses the ball to someone else in the group, and it becomes their turn to talk. Keep it short: 30 to 60 seconds for each person.
  • Avoid small talk. There's no need to talk about the weather, your child's little league team, or what you had for breakfast. Let it be known that employees can arrive a few minutes early or stick around a bit longer to connect on an informal note if they wish.
  • If you have remote attendees, or your meeting is entirely virtual, use video technology. Surveys show that the use of video decreases multitasking and increases engagement.
  • Assign others to lead some of the discussion. We tend to tune out after one person speaks for a long time. A new voice reboots our interest.
  • Use visuals, like a whiteboard, where appropriate. Most of the population has a visual learning style, so using a visual helps attendees absorb information better. (Avoid long, unnecessary slide presentations.)
  • Talk about culture development and other topics that help your team understand your vision. Invite open discussion on these topics.
  • Some personality types will rarely speak up in meetings. Rather than put them on the spot, send challenges and questions in advance. This process allows them to think about their suggestions and be prepared to talk about them. Or they can post or send their comments in writing ahead of time.
  • End your meeting on an inspirational, motivational, or humorous note. Send your people out the door feeling energized and with a smile on their faces.
  • To add more fun and unpredictability, surprise your team with a new location or a fun activity at your meetings. Walk to a nearby park, take them out for a meal, or hire an event planner to add an unexpected twist to the occasional meeting. Your time and effort will pay off through increased productivity and engagement. Happy employees keep any company humming along.

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