We’ve all been there. Losing the attention of co-workers or checking the clock for how much time has been committed to a one-hour meeting that’s now reaching the two-hour mark. Unfortunately, time-consuming and unproductive meetings are a common corporate disorder.
According to the results of a survey released by the software firm Clarizen and Harris Poll, the average American spends more than nine hours preparing and attending general status meetings a week. That’s nearly equivalent to an entire workday. Time is precious and we hate to waste it.
A long and unorganized meeting can turn into a collaborative train wreck. However, meetings can be very effective in planning, making decisions and completing tasks when the person in charge takes enough time to organize it by creating a meaningful and engaging experience for the participants.
Here are five ways to boost productivity and engagement in your meetings. Feel free to comment below if you would like to add to the list!
Start with an Icebreaker Activity
Kicking off the meeting with an icebreaker or game will get the creative juices flowing. Collaboration is more fun when everyone knows each other, so an icebreaker will encourage everyone to exchange ideas with new people. For example, an effective activity to start with is, “Do you know me?” in which you simply put each person’s name on an index card with interview questions. “When is my birthday?” or “How long have I been working for the company?” are good questions to start with; five questions should be enough. Depending on the size of the group, you hand each person a card and they have to quiz the person listed on the index card. This is a great way to learn more about one another!
Keep It Concise
Create a start and end time, along with a written agenda of definitive points you would like to discuss during that time slot. Lead with the key items on the agenda in case you run out of time. Keep everyone on the same page by giving every attendee a copy of the agenda, and even allow each person to come prepared by sending it out in advance. Furthermore, state your purpose and objective at the beginning of the meeting. With that said, avoid going off a tangent by referring to your agenda frequently to stick to the task at hand.
Tell a Good Story
Everyone loves a good story. In fact, storytelling is a powerful business strategy that paints a picture and engages emotions. It makes the message memorable. Tell me to stop eating chocolate every day because it is bad for my teeth and I hear you. But tell me you got five cavities from eating too much chocolate, then I start to hear and take heed. Take your audience on a journey, and in the end, they should leave the meeting inspired and motivated. In a business meeting, you can start your story with the core of your message – in other words, your objective – then build stories around it to confirm or motivate.
Use Engaging Visuals
In addition to a good story, use relevant pictures and vivid words in your presentation that further draw the audience in. For instance, instead of your standard PowerPoint, digital storytelling tools, such as Prezi and Infogram, can significantly aid in bringing your ideas to life. The words you use in your presentation and speech should also paint a vivid picture and awaken your audience’s sensory.
Start (and End) On Time
If you are in charge of leading multiple office meetings, you can boost employee morale by frequently starting and ending on schedule. Additionally, employees will look forward to your meetings because you show that you care about their valuable time. A clear and productive meeting should be one hour or less. As the leader of the meeting, it is up to you to track the time and keep everyone focused.
Have your own suggestions on creating meaningful meetings that aren’t a time suck? Comment below to share those great ideas!