All too often, business meetings are unproductive, unfocused, and just plain boring. While meetings may have a bad reputation, that doesn't mean your team can't work together to create a positive experience for everyone involved. When employees feel engaged in a meeting, it can generate an environment where ideas flow, team collaboration improves, and social bonds are strengthened. Here are five tips for how to run a meeting that increases employee engagement:
- Stand up and get the blood flowing
While many people have anecdotal evidence that standing meetings improve attention and engagement, there’s now research to support this claim. The Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis found that people in their study had increased levels of engagement when they stood up during a meeting compared to a control group. If you feel that the level of participation isn't as high as you would like, or if you're losing your audience, have team members get out of their chairs.
- Be sure to get people involved
If you want people engaged, you have to be sure to include them. Think about implementing different strategies to get people sharing ideas, collaborating, and speaking with one another. To do this, try routinely hosting a round at different points in a meeting where participants can contribute, share opinions, and even voice complaints. Think about breaking people up into groups or partners, or even using "speed dating," where everyone switches partners quickly to bounce ideas off one another. Also be sure to ask for feedback on meetings and query participants about how meetings can be improved in the future.
- Have clear goals and objectives
Meetings that go off on tangents or don't have a clear goal can often leave attendees frustrated and disinterested. There should be a set framework in advance of your meetings, with key points outlined and a good idea of what the meeting needs to accomplish. This can help make brainstorming sessions more focused, help you stay on point, and keep your team going in the right creative direction.
- Get visual
Visuals are an excellent way to increase engagement in a meeting. But just adding some pie charts to a presentation isn't going to cut it. Think about using a white board or pin boards, mixing up colorful markers, and distributing post-its throughout your meeting room. Encourage people to write their own ideas down, express themselves visually, and even vote on ideas by placing a sticker with their name next to the proposals they like best.
- Try to make a meeting special
People tend to like a bit of variety in life, and meetings are no different. Think about inviting leaders and educators to speak to meeting participants. Sometimes it doesn't even have to be entirely related to the meeting topic or objective. As long as the speaker is innovative and challenges orthodoxy, there is an opportunity that he or she will educate and inspire meeting participants. You can also think about introducing a novel environment to help jump start creativity. It could be as simple as bringing people out to a park or hosting a meeting on a patio, but a change of scenery can go a long way to getting the engagement you want.