Meetings are usually boring. Usually, save for the lucky ones who work in awesome companies with free donuts -or sharwarmas - in the meeting room. It doesn't have to be though, you can save yourself and your team from falling asleep. It can be done without being disruptive too. Here 8 ways to make meetings more interesting.
1. Choose a venue conducive for discussion – but do not be confined to the four walls of an office or classroom. Quiet cafes or parks offer more relaxing atmospheres. A change of scenery is always helps in refreshing minds and coming up with new ideas.
2. Set a detailed agenda. – Inform your participants about the topics that you will be sharing with them at the start of the meeting so they know what to expect. Make sure that the agenda for the day will not drain them physically, mentally and emotionally. For levelling-off sessions and quick updates, keep the agenda to a maximum of five. The members will be made aware of the urgency of the situation and it creates the impression that you want things to be brief. More often than not, things will wrap up as soon as possible.
3. Create a checklist. – Old school, yes, but it actually works in providing a visual representation of what you have accomplished so far and what you still have to work on. It also helps you keep track of the time you spend on each agenda. If some members are losing focus, you can direct them back to the checklist and pick up where you left off.
4. Cut to the chase. – Be clear and concise when raising points or concerns. Beating around the bush will only confuse or make people impatient. The faster you explain the sooner everyone can come up with a solution. Here's a good read with tips on how to be efficient in meetings.
5. Appeal to the senses. – Props do not always mean blaring computer screens and black ink on white boards. Practice a little creativity by adding soft background music or 3D objects (i.e. models, manuals, etc.) to highlight points. Also, no one likes to think on an empty stomach so bring food and drinks if possible.
6. Be sensitive to the needs of your team. – Create a reasonable timeframe for sharing and discussion. Except for emergency meetings, it is unnecessary to take up the entire afternoon or ask your team members to stay overnight to talk. The longer they stay, the crankier and more tired they become. When mulling over important matters, give them ample time to process information before proposing solutions.
7. Encourage them to speak up. – Avoid being judgmental and listen carefully to what they have to say. In multicultural situations, speak in a language that everyone can understand. Be mindful of individual differences by creating a group dynamic that is open-minded and reasonable. If your team feels that you respect their opinions chances are they will respect your decisions. This article has great tips for making the most out of meetings.
8. End on a positive note. – Before adjourning the meeting, look back on what was discussed. Stress the importance of individual roles and deadlines but thank them for their time. Finally assure them that the team will be there to support them every step of the way. Here's a list of quick tips for a productive meeting.