Meetings can be as much a liability as an asset. If you’re not smart about how you run your meetings, people will come to dread them. Effective meetings require effective management.
Here are six ways to get your people excited about meetings and let them walk away with as much benefit as possible:
Avoid unnecessary meetings.
The first rule in getting people to not hate meetings is to not have too many. While you may think a Monday morning meeting is just the right thing to set the tone for the week, your staff may not. In fact, many of them are still thinking about the weekend, and the last thing they want to do is sit through an unnecessary meeting. That’s not to say weekly meetings are always a bad idea; just make sure that there’s truly something to meet about before you do. For many businesses and teams, a monthly meeting is enough, with weekly updates communicated via other means, such as email.
Share ownership of the meeting.
It’s a basic fact of human nature: We’re much more interested in our own things than we are in someone else’s. Accordingly, if you want to get people excited about a meeting, let them make it their own. Devoting even a few minutes to key personnel can let them feel like the whole process was worthwhile. If for some reason it’s important to your business to have regular meetings, consider passing the role of facilitating the meeting around your team.
Provide incentives for attending (and paying attention) during a meeting.
Food is often a great motivator for teams. Serving bagels and cream cheese can help encourage meeting attendance and participation. As much as human beings like to think they’re motivated by higher interests, over time your team will begin to associate meeting time with delectable treats.
Consider creative meeting venues.
Sitting around a table in a conference room can be a great way to get things done quickly. It’s also a great way to stifle creativity. For a change of pace, get out from under the fluorescent glow of the conference room and hold your meetings somewhere else, such as a local restaurant. Even meeting in a different part of the building can help to keep things fresh.
Vary presentation formats.
If the primary purpose of a meeting is to disseminate information, the last thing you want to do is barrage your team with data orally for an hour and a half. Likewise, all PowerPoint presentations start to look the same after a while. If you have the time and resources, consider breaking things up with a variety of presentation formats. That can include oral, slide shows, videos and even small-group activities.
Use breakout sessions to troubleshoot and collect feedback.
Consider stopping during a meeting to break into small groups. Small groups can do a number of things for you in the middle of a meeting. For example, they can brainstorm possible solutions to a problem presented during the meeting. They can also be a great source of feedback. You can even use a breakout session like this during your next meeting to get ideas about making meetings more exciting.
Meetings can be more than a necessary evil. A good leader is able to identify ways to give people the information they need, have the discussions that need to happen and still keep everyone interested. Try any one of these six tactics, and you may soon find that your people stop dreading meetings and may even start asking when the next meeting will be scheduled.
Katie Reynolds is the marketing manager of webinars and public relations at Vistage International.