“I love our weekly, hour-long status meetings,” said no one. Ever. In the history of meetings.
Most people – employees and managers – see meetings as more of an inconvenience than an effective work gathering. Why? Because, let’s be honest here … most meetings aren’t effective gatherings!
“No matter what kind of … meeting you run, you can make it better by increasing your planning, tightening your delivery, (and) leveraging technology and people,” says Kate Zabriskie, president of Business Training Works, Inc.
Here’s what she suggests HR leaders do. You’ll want to pass these tactics onto any leader who hosts meetings, too.
1. Narrow the focus
You already know an agenda is a must. Narrow the focus, and people aren’t as likely to get off topic – which is the main reason meetings run long and frustrate participants.
For example, instead of discussing the project, narrow the focus to one, in-progress, high-impact aspect of the project.
2. Zero in on the goal repeatedly
Say the goal of the meeting at the beginning, end and several times during. It reminds everyone why they’re meeting and how they’re expected to contribute.
For example: Our goal is to come up with the next step in the training guide for the software overhaul. When we’re done we should have the training topics, outline and dates set. We need each of your input on topics and approaches, plus the dates you can lead training.
3. Assign roles
As the manager, you don’t have to take on every role – leader, timekeeper, note taker, etc. Hand over control early.
Say: Jill, I’d like you be our timekeeper and agenda monitor. Make sure we stay in our boundaries. If we start to run off track, poll the group to see if we should continue to deviate from the agenda or get back on track.
4. Act like a newscaster
Newscasters plan and announce in segments.
Your agenda should be done in segments, too.
For example: First, we’ll get a quick update on the software overhaul’s progress. Then we’ll look at the overall training needs. Finally, we’ll prioritize those and create the outline and schedule.
5. Use the right language
Zabriskie suggests these language cues from newscasters, too:
- Dial up your speaking energy about 10%. If the leader isn’t a bit more enthused about the meeting, no one else will be.
- Cut weak language such as “I’m not sure,” “I think …” and “This may be dumb …” Encourage everyone to believe in what they say.
6. Use more platforms
Incorporate one or two sharable platforms to keep people engaged.
If you have remote attendees, using extra platforms is especially important.
- Screens. Use one big screen or screensharing apps for personal devices with visuals. Make sure your slides add to what you say and aren’t just printed versions of what you say.
- Audio/video. Only use short clips to either warm up the group or share valuable information you can’t add.
- Cameras – a must if you have attendees offsite. Communication is clearer when everyone can see facial expressions and body language.
7. Consider it a work in progress
Meetings people actually want to attend are a work in purpose. Ask people who attend what’s working for them and what isn’t.