from INC magazine 21 Nov 14 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
Big Waste. Top executives spend 20% dealing with un-productive meetings. This loss trickles down throughout the organization. Lost time isn’t just spent in the meetings themselves. The process of preparing for, having the meeting, then summarizing the results cuts into productivity as well, with employees at all levels losing valuable work time each week.
Meetings are an “essential” part of doing business. Despite the many collaborative tools available, face-to-face meetings remain the most popular to exchange ideas quickly. Holding the attention of today’s tech-distracted (ie, texting), fast-paced workers can present numerous challenges, especially if those employees are already time challenged. It’s important that your meetings be concise & interesting or you may be wasting everyone’s time. Here are a few tips to capture & hold attention during your next business meeting.
1. Make It Interactive. If your meetings consist of one person speaking at length to a roomful of people, your employees likely are only capturing a small % of what’s being said. Instead of spending a half an hour reviewing the plan for your upcoming project, for instance, you could invite your employees to participate in the Planning process via brainstorming for the best ideas. Ask for questions throughout the meeting and repeat each question to the group when it is asked. If your employees feel as though they are taking part in the meeting, they’ll be more likely to remain alert & interested.
2. Use Visual Aids – which are a great way to engage your meeting participants, giving them something to catch their attention. However, PowerPoint slides have become so ingrained in work meetings, employees sometimes get slide fatigue – unless you keep it short and to the point. Consider using other presentation Apps to give your slides a kick, but don’t overdo it. Too many graphics & sound effects can turn your meeting into a circus.
3. Bring in Food. This is my favorite tip. Even if nothing gets accomplished, at least you had something to eat. Instead of holding your standard Staff Meeting every monday morning, host Special Lunches – where employees are invited to eat before or during the meeting. Some doughnuts, croissants, muffins or bagels can give workers a reason to look forward to meetings + they often boost energy & ideas. By adding food to meetings, businesses encourage conversation and camaraderie between employees.
4. Gamify. Give employees a reason to pay attention by making a game out of it. Prior to the meeting, hand out a Buzz-word Bingo Sheet and announce that the first attendee to get Bingo wins a prize. As participants use buzzwords like “fast track” and “game plan,” employees can check them off on their sheets. Not only will they stay alert, they’ll have fun.
5. Reward Contributions. One trick professional speakers use to encourage interaction is to reward those who ask or answer questions when prompted. You could simply bring a bag of candy to the meeting and toss a piece to each audience member who participates. Even audience members who don’t like candy will often want to be part of the fun.
6. Shake Things Up. Over time, it’s easy for a workplace to fall into a dull routine. The next time a meeting is scheduled, surprise employees with a special Field Trip to a fun location like a bowling alley or ice cream parlor. Your employees will likely enjoy the outing. If you cant have a meeting at the site, when you do get back into the conference room, they will have a greater sense of camaraderie as well as some great stories to tell.
7. Stick to the Agenda. If someone gets off the track or is being too lengthy, politely get back to the Agenda & significant discussion. You have the responsibility of not wasting anyone’s time – for the benefit of the organization. Remember “attention spans” fall rapidly at 50-60 minutes, so keep it short & to the point – concise.
8. Send out the Agenda ahead of time, (if possible), so the Attendees can prepare. Perhaps they have some good ideas to share. Let them know you would like their participation, to discuss their relevant ideas.
Conclusion. Business meetings are a required part of work, but they don’t have to be boring. By using & finding other ways to make your meetings interesting & fun, you’ll keep employees’ attention and get great ideas from your team. Occasionally throw in a surprise or two and you’ll find morale and productivity both improve and employees eventually begin looking forward to your meetings.
Comments: Is there anything else you could add – to make meetings more interesting?