Do you know the distinct purpose of every meeting you hold? The meeting purpose informs employee engagement and productivity. When a meeting goes too long or meanders, you lose your employees along the way.
Company meetings may celebrate, decide, educate, network, produce or promote. The most successful meetings keep their formula and selected purposes simple. Whether celebrating a milestone or brainstorming a new strategy, here are 10 ways to accomplish great things at your next meeting.
1. PowerPoint doesn’t give the speech
PowerPoint-heavy meetings, where the speaker drones on like Charlie Brown’s teacher, help no one retain information or excitement. Slides and spoken word choices shouldn’t match word for word. The best slides use succinct, to-the-point words with visuals to engage the senses and drive the message home. Illustrations, graphs and photos provide essential points.
Make the font and images legible, not fussy. Fewer slides can inform more effectively than 20 slides. Keep the show short, and let the Q&A open up more possibilities for relevant elaboration.
2. Add an interpersonal element
Recall that meetings also serve the purpose of networking, which allows co-workers to connect, share ideas and information, and build relationships. People don’t want to come to work to clock in and out, and 72 percent feel lonely. Work encompasses a great deal of most people’s lives, so they should take a moment to enjoy a coffee, share a meal or laugh over awkward ping pong moves.
Adding interpersonal elements to the day and meetings deepens trust among teams and senior staff and increases employee engagement and well-being. Trust between senior management and employees significantly contributes to job satisfaction overall.
3. Involve the team
Employees need to feel confident in their contributions to the company and like they can move up in the ranks. Give team members a platform, depending on the meeting purpose.
4. Keep meetings short
Start the meeting within a reasonable time frame and end early to keep employees energized. Try to keep general meetings 30 minutes long, and question why you need an hours-long annual meeting. People come to 30-minute meetings more prepared, engaged and open to learning. Conversations don’t meander and speakers get their points across more efficiently.
5. Acknowledge errors
Don’t bury bad news. Employees value transparency, and when companies take ownership of errors as a whole, they pave the way for progress and innovation. Talk about what went wrong objectively, and find value in learning from mistakes. Never point fingers.
6. What’s the takeaway?
End with a solid gem for participants to take away for each section of the presentation, but especially at the conclusion of the meeting. It doesn’t have to be a call to action, but should leave employees feeling inspired and connected to the message. Like the meeting, keep the takeaway brief and make sure it’s addressed in the beginning, middle and end without sounding like a broken record.
7. Know guest speaker presentations in and out
Guest speakers run either hot or cold depending on the content and the audience. Know in advance what the speaker will say, including the message and slides. Good presenters like to know more about their audience, host rules and technological capabilities of the meeting room. You also know what resources to offer and how to help the speaker keep the presentation flowing.
8. Switch the scene
Tired of meeting in the same four walls? Your team feels the same.
Shake up the meeting by changing the environment, which can impact the power of the message. Meet in a historic home in town when talking about the history of your company and how that applies to the future. Conduct walking meetings on a green-way, as exposure to natural sensory experiences increases productivity and reduces stress levels. Use nature to improve the room itself by bringing in live plants, but make sure you water them.
9. The five-word challenge
Prevent meandering Q&As or overshares with the five-word challenge. When you direct a question to your audience, ask them to articulate their answers in five words or less. You will engage with each team member, save time and gain valuable information.
10. Make them laugh
If you can’t make them laugh once, you’ve done your job. Humor helps lighten the mood and engage your audience, who will see you as a more accessible leader. You gain their attention, engagement and respect.
Give yourself time to calm your nerves and present a warm smile. Experienced leaders still get a little nervous from time to time.
Meetings usually have more than one purpose, but that doesn’t mean they need to last for two hours. Bring more to the table in a shorter time to accomplish great things and allow employees to leave feeling motivated and more connected to each other and the company mission.