We’ve all been there: A meeting trudges along so painfully, your mind wanders to what you need to cook for dinner. Boring meetings and brainstorming sessions can bruise a staffer’s workplace experience and mire office culture in a haze of fatigue.
If you’re hosting staff meetings regularly, you need to add sizzle and focus to your sessions…otherwise, you’ll lose your audience in seconds and never get them back.
Below are five pieces of advice on how to make your meetings productive:
Agenda It Up
All meetings require a focused agenda to ensure a seamless hour. Ensure your agenda has clear points which have been sent to everyone coming to the meeting. Work through the meeting goals outlined in the agenda, and if you decide to add an agenda item, email meeting participants about the addition beforehand; that way, no one is blindsided by an idea they hadn’t had time to think about before.
Not in the ouch-my-shoulder! way, but in the way that brings your meeting participants into a new environment. Sometimes, having a meeting in the same old conference room can subconsciously bog down your staffers in the same groupthink. A fresh new venue could enliven a marketing brainstorming session, for instance. Why not head down to the corner coffee shop? Or if it’s nice outside, find a patch of grass and initiate a new kind of meeting process. A dose of cold air can sometimes wake up the employee whose eyes start to droop around 3 p.m.
Have you been to a meeting where the leader does all the talking and everyone just nods in agreement? That is a boring and unproductive session. Rather, as the meeting leader, you need to encourage participation and get everyone’s voices on the table. If you want feedback about a topic, you need to be upfront about that from the beginning. Let your staffers know that feedback will only bring more creativity to the meeting, and no suggestion will be shot down. The only wrong answer is not saying anything at all, right?
Early on, tell participants what kind of insight you’ll be looking for at the meeting. Such a preemptive move will help your meeting-goers prepare for the discussions you’ll be initiating.
Focus on big fish or tackle small fries?
When a meeting tries to do too much, no one wins. Decide early on if your meeting items should be on major overhauls, for instance, or smaller issues. When you try to tackle a heavy topic, one agenda item could dominate an hour-long session, so you might need to break down a larger task into a more manageable format. But also remember, it’s never useful to tread over 10 items lightly instead of doing meaningful work on a few.
Have fun…and food
It’s no secret that a good story can pull in someone’s attention. Use a story or anecdote to drive home a point, or find a relevant outside-your-job example to relate your idea to your participants. And if that story has humour, all the better, because a meeting full of laughter will definitely have your participants smiling and forgetting about their menial dinner-cooking duties.
Speaking of dinner, it never hurts to place some food or coffee pots near the meeting table in order to get your staffers enticed to be at the meeting. Yes, it’s mandatory anyway, but something to nibble on can be helpful for some people to get their minds chewing on new ideas.
Photo via Flickr, Creative Commons
What tips do you have for avoiding hosting boring meetings?
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