Everyday organizations lose valuable time due to ineffective meetings. Drained from energy, meeting participants fight their way through another day of wall-to-wall meetings. The last five minutes of each meeting is spend thinking about how they can avoid being late for the next meeting. They show up at a new meeting slightly confused and become insecure of their expected contribution.
What can you do to stand out and make people remember your meetings?
Here are my 5 best tips and some concrete examples on how you can engage participants during meetings and make sure you keep on track during the meeting. You can use the methods in large meetings as well as in smaller meetings.
Ask a short question, loudly to the audience or to the participants in smaller meetings. It can be any question that initiates a thought in the audience. Only rule here is that you can link the question back to the content of the meeting.
“If I say Social Media, what is the first ONE word that comes to your mind?”
Ask questions if you want to poke participants’ brains on a specific content area and start setting a direction for the meeting. The method helps you reveal what kind of group you are with and what potential barriers you should work with
In a small meeting, let people reveal their answer, but restrict to one or two words. In larger meetings only ask 7-9 people to keep momentum in the meeting.
Divide into smaller groups
Ask people to pair up two by two and discuss a short question.
“When I say go, discuss with the person next to you, what are the benefits of Social Media?”
Doing this is my favorite tool. It raises the energy in the room because everybody feels that they contribute to the subject. Pairing up two by two also creates commitment and dependency, since you do not want to let your peer down, even if you thought you could use the break for texting.
Ask measurable questions to activate participants. Engage by asking them to raise a hand or similar if they agree with certain statements.
“Whistle loudly if you are on twitter”
Don’t always use the same body part. Consider using body parts that are relevant to the question. If it is a soccer poll, use the feet to indicate the answer.
Delegate small tasks
To engage individuals during a meeting, share a task with selected participants. It could be the team lead whom you would like to take more ownership of the actions derived from the meeting.
“Please write down your ideas on a card-board and stick them on the wall”
Remember to spend some time discussing and grouping the card-board in to larger themes. You need to dwell shortly with each contribution otherwise participants will think that you don’t appreciate their contributions and they are likely to be less engaged the next time you try something new.
Consider using artifacts. A ball, a dice, a post-it note is fun and can help introverts share their thoughts of the topic because they are forced to contribute. Ask participants to share a thought and have them throw the ball to another person asking them the same question or maybe a derived question.
“What are your thoughts on our social media strategy”
Don’t have time to engage in good meetings? Read here to learn more about how to plan your meeting using the 10-20-30 rule for presenters.
When you use these five tools well, you will notice that people start paying more attention and feel more engaged in your meetings. Prepare a couple of questions for each method and use them strategically if you feel that the energy in the room is fuzzing or use it as a break for yourself to get back on track after loosing thread of thoughts.
Have fun and happy energy in your next meeting! I will be happy to hear from you if you want to share your own experiences with engaging meeting participants or if you want to share your own tools for having highly energized meetings.
Don’t be a stranger!
Kristian Steen Holme