Top tips for keeping employees engaged during a work meeting
Meetings are fantastic for getting feedback and exchanging new ideas, as long as employee engagement is high. To maintain a high level of engagement, it’s important to spend a little time properly planning your meeting and the environment. Here are our top tips:
Organising your meeting
Only invite relevant people and get responses
You won’t want people there who don’t want to be and have no stake in the meeting so make sure that you are only inviting those who really need to be there. This will help to avoid wasting time, as well as hosting people who will be bored and a distraction to others.
Make sure you get responses from the invitees, otherwise you may be organising a meeting that no one attends.
Only have the meetings you need
If employees are continually being invited to meetings that could have been handled quicker another way, they will not feel particularly engaged when they receive another invite from you. By only having the meetings that are important, employees will know that it’s worth attending and will take more notice.
Send your agenda
Letting people know ahead of time what they will be discussing will help to improve their focus and engagement. It will also allow people to prepare for the meeting, as well as raise any objections to the topics of discussion.
Get feedback from previous meetings
Your employees are a font of knowledge when it comes to how engaged they are. When you’re planning another meeting, ask them how they felt the previous one went and ask them for anything that would make them engage better or get more out of the meeting the next time.
Your meeting space
Control the temperature and airflow
It may seem obvious but if your meeting room is hot and stuffy or cold, your employees will be finding it difficult to concentrate and engage with the material. Make sure you are hosting your meeting somewhere with well-lit, air-conditioned rooms that have comfortable seating arrangements. If you don’t have an appropriate space, consider renting a meeting venue to make it easier and more comfortable.
During your meeting
Keep to the point
When attention starts to waver or people are going off on tangents, make sure that you – politely – redirect their focus. Doing so will help to keep the meeting short, as well as ensure that you can cover all of your topics before the end of the meeting. If people are struggling to stay focussed, suggest a short break and then come back to the topic.
Give everyone the opportunity to speak
People will be more likely to be engaged in the topic if they know that they will have a chance to speak, whether that is to ask questions or to offer an opinion. Unless you’re only planning to give them information, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t expect to speak during a meeting. If you’re not expecting others to speak, perhaps a meeting isn’t the right forum – even demonstrations usually would expect to have feedback so if you really don’t want people to speak, consider using an email or handout instead of the meeting.
Keep to the time
When meetings overrun, employees will be thinking about the tasks they were supposed to be completing during the extra time and this stress will cause their level of engagement to suffer. Long periods of time spent focussing on only one thing will also cause engagement to drop so if you do need a long meeting, make sure that you are either adding in breaks or splitting it into shorter meetings.
Feed their brains and their bodies
For longer meetings (or those around the time you would expect your employees to be having a little snack) put out snacks – like biscuits, crisps, fruit, pastries or even sandwiches – to keep their sugar levels up so that they will concentrate better on your meeting (than their rumbling stomachs). The knowledge that there will be snacks can also be a mood booster and people will be more likely to look forward to your meetings. Why not try cuisines from around the world or themed snacks to mix things up a bit?
Change your presentation style
You may have had some useful feedback about the way you deliver meetings and if so act on what is possible. Try using whiteboards or getting other people to lead the meetings, little changes like these can make a big difference. Try to remember the meetings that really engaged your interest and emulate what you can from them.
In this age of connectivity, it is common for people to keep their devices with them at all times. If you find that people are often distracted by their phones, laptops or tablets during meetings, ask them to leave them behind or have them in bags instead. You can waive this rule for anyone expecting an urgent call – such as a partner going into labour – but for the most part, there shouldn’t be anything more urgent than having the meeting.
Have a standing meeting
For shorter meetings, don’t bother sitting down. Keep everyone on their feet and have a quick huddle. This can be good for short update meetings, where everyone can go round quickly with their input.
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