Planning a successful meeting is stressful enough without having to worry about how you’re going to get attendees to participate and attentive. Even if it’s just a small team meeting, you want people to focus on the event at hand; not only to ensure that attendees have good retention of the information but also because you want them to have a positive experience of the meeting.
In many cases, employees think meetings are a waste of time. This usually happens when participants are invited to the meeting but not really needed there. Another reason why people hate meetings is because they take too long. Speakers ramble on and sometimes go off-topic.
The good news is that there are ways to prevent boredom during meetings without having to resort to hiring fire-eating performers or dancing horses.
If you’re looking for ways to give meetings an extra boost, you’re in the right place. Following our tips can help make your meetings successful. Here are our top 3 best advice.
Tips For Boosting Participation
Even if the conference room is full of people, it does not mean to say that they will all be taking part in the meeting. Here are some tips on how you can give meetings an extra boost not only to improve attendee participation but their experience as well.
Schedule & Prep The Meeting
The time of the meeting plays a big part in boosting meeting success. Scheduling a meeting before 9 in the morning means your attendees will be grumpy due to the morning rush. Anything after lunch makes them fall asleep. Studies show that meetings should be held between 10am and 1:30pm are the best.
Having an agenda prepared is another great way to ensure meeting success. Agenda should include time allotted per speaker as well as a question and answer portion to make sure that everybody understands and is able to participate.
As much as possible keep your meetings short. People usually have short attention spans and keeping their attention focused on something can become a problem the longer the meeting gets. Also remember that attendees have jobs and other responsibilities that also need attention so meetings below the 90-minute mark are ideal.
Speaking of attention spans, ask participants to leave their phones behind or to put them on silent mode. Cellphones are very distracting and can affect attendee retention. People also respond well to images so use visual aids during the course of your meetings. Use images, charts, bullet points or print your agenda with graphics to boost retention.
Lastly, only invite participants that need to be there. For instance, you can opt to invite only 1 person per team for the meeting. This is one of the reasons why employees are so frustrated with meetings. When they feel that they don’t have something to contribute or is not needed, they feel that meetings are a waste of time. Therefore, invite only the people who need to be there.
Use Tools To Spark Engagement
One of the best ways to boost a meeting is by getting attendees to participate actively. A good way to do this is to ask for their input or to invite their questions. When you ask for their input you are directing attention to a specific idea while inviting their question is a good way to start a discussion. This type of engagement makes participants feel valued.
Another way to make participants feel included is to have them contribute directly to the meeting. For example you can ask an attendee for a presentation. Alternatively you can ask for their opinion or their ideas. This is valuable because it keeps attendees excited. Once they have contributed initially, they will continue to do so even after the meeting is over.
If the meeting involves a large group of people, pair them up and assign tasks. Ask them to share what they have discovered in a small group. Once they have shared in a small group, they are bound to share to a bigger group. This is a great way to get a big meeting to start talking and discussing. It can be hard to have everybody participate and contribute in a large meeting so having them breakdown in smaller groups can boost their confidence level and start the ball rolling.
Don’t shy away from having fun during meetings. One of the best ways to start one is by breaking the ice through fun games. A short trivia game can help everybody relax and get into the groove.
Don’t forget to give credit where credit is due. People should be acknowledged for their contribution. Attendees will take note of this and feel inspired to participate and contribute the next time.
Use Powers Of Persuasion To Get Attendees Excited
One of the best ways to give a meeting an extra boost is to get attendees excited. One way to do this is to get them to agree on something right off the bat. It does not have to be related to the meeting but getting them to say yes right away means that your ideas will also get a real yes during the final proposal.
In some meetings ideas are shared back and forth. Boost their excitement level by letting other people “own” an idea. Let’s say that the idea was initially yours; letting the group discuss it will make them think that the idea is theirs. Ask questions along the way to lead them towards the final concept of letting them think that the idea was originally theirs.
Some meetings can turn confrontational or even hostile. It is important to remember to always show respect because attendees tend to get defensive during confrontation. Avoid arguments and show respect because disagreements get in the way of winning somebody over.
Always be friendly with everybody. Share, listen and empathize with other attendees. Let them know that they are supported. Don’t give them the impression that you’re competing against each other. This will ruin the purpose of the meeting.
If you really want people to agree on an idea, share the background information. Oftentimes when an idea is vague or if there is a big context that is left out, people won’t immediately get what you’re talking about. This might lead to confusion, divert their attention or lead to an entirely different idea. If you have concrete data that can back up an idea, share it because it can help the team make more confident and informed decisions.
Bonus: Negotiation Is Key
It is natural for ideas to go back and forth during a meeting. People will normally have different opinions and ways of approaching different situations. In moments like this, you don’t want one party to feel as though they have lost the discussion. This is where negotiations come in handy.
Negotiations are great because they encourage participation from members. Everybody should go to a meeting and not feel left out. Therefore, ideas and feedback should not be ignored. Instead of letting people put ideas on the back burner, encourage them to negotiate. You never know how good an idea is until it is fleshed out and discussed thoroughly.
Letting members negotiate is also a good way to get them to participate. Attendees like to feel that they have contributed. When they feel that their ideas are ignored, they will feel bored or neglected. Instead of letting them feel this way, ask them to present their ideas more clearly and encourage other attendees to discuss so that the idea can be dissected at different angles and perspectives.
Always be ready to compromise too. Compromise does not mean that a party has lost. It just means that you are looking for the perfect balance between ideas. Working towards a solution to a problem sometimes means that you don’t see eye-to-eye. However, compromise can lead parties towards a mutual understanding. Always foster the spirit of compromise to make sure that all ideas are heard and to make attendees feel validated.
Many people dread meetings and it can be a struggle to get everybody to participate. Many people space out and others just prefer to keep quiet. Lack of participation in a meeting can lead to decline in productivity. Before you know it, everybody is quiet and you’re the only one talking. As the meeting gets longer, everybody will begin to think that meetings are really a waste of time.
When the conference room is silent, you need to do something to boost participation. Attendee participation keeps the meeting going forward. Getting attendees to talk and participate generates ideas, strengthens teamwork and makes attendees feel valued.
- Schedule the meeting between 10 am to 1:30 pm. Early morning meetings make people grumpy and after lunch sessions sleepy.
- Always prepare an agenda with allotted time for each speaker and Q&A. Keep the meetings below the 90-minute mark as much as possible.
- Ask participants to leave their cellphones on their desk or to put it on silent.
- Invite only the people who need to be there.
- Make attendees participate by asking them to contribute ideas or feedback.
- Encourage them to ask questions and to give presentations.
- All participants should be respectful, polite and friendly to each other.
- Give credit where credit is due, especially when it comes to ideas.
- Don’t be afraid to have fun.
- Get attendees excited by getting them to agree on something.
- Share background information that can help the team make better and informed decisions.
- Be open to negotiation and compromise
We hope that these tips will help you boost your meetings and keep attendees happy and feel valued.
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