Company meetings often seem like a boring waste of time in corporate life, not just for employees but for management as well. Many employees have a hard time staying focused during meetings, and it’s not always their fault. As the manager and leader of the meeting, it’s your responsibility to engage those employees and make sure that your meetings are productive. The next time you’re meeting at your company or in meeting rooms in Salt Lake City, remember the following five tips of things you can do to improve your employees’ attention and participation during your next meeting.
1. Start on Time and Maintain Your Pace
A common frustration with regards to company meetings is that many of them leave participants feeling that their time was wasted. To value your employee’s time—and to value your own time as well—be sure to start your meetings on time. The starting time should be set in stone. Begin at the stated time and lock the door to keep distractions and latecomers out, if necessary.
Once you begin, follow your outline and maintain a steady pace to avoid going beyond your allotted timeframe. Starting and finishing on time shows your employees that you respect their time and that you expect the same in return. If you have employees joining your meeting from virtual offices by phone or via video stream, be sure that their time is valued in the same way as well.
2. State the Purpose and Stay on Track
A lack of focus is the bane of all company meetings. To keep from wasting time and causing frustration, it’s best to keep your meetings short and focused, and the best way to do this is to follow an agenda. Define the purpose of the meeting ahead of time. Outline all the key talking points. Eliminate non-essential information. State the purpose of the meeting as you begin your presentation and stay on track as you go.
3. Don’t Display Complete PowerPoint Pages
Have you ever noticed what happens when you’re in a meeting or at a presentation, and the speaker puts up a page full of notes or bullet points up on the screen? You probably spend the next 10–15 seconds ignoring what the speaker is saying while you read the whole page. And then you spend the next 1–2 minutes zoning out as the speaker reads their own notes that you already know.
The problem is that you end up missing something along the way. Well, if you’re putting up entire pages of notes during your meeting, then your employees are doing the same thing and missing part of the message that you’re trying to communicate to them.
So what you should do instead is you should set up your PowerPoint to post one bullet at a time. Discuss that first talking point before showing the next bullet. Then discuss that point before adding in the third bullet, etc. Gradually revealing the different talking points on a page will keep your team better engaged with your message.
4. Focus on Problems and Solutions
There are always going to be a lot of things that you want to discuss with your team, but cramming them all into a meeting is often counterproductive. General announcements are better sent out through emails and memos. Try to keep your meetings short and focus your discussion on problems and their solutions. This will keep you from overloading your team with a flood of information of varied importance.
5. Designate Time for Questions
It’s inevitable that some team members will have questions or will require clarification on certain points throughout the meeting. Taking these questions as they come can easily derail your meeting and lead you off onto tangents that drag the meeting out way past the allotted time. Instead, request that employees jot down their questions as they come up and then ask them during designated times, either at the end of each section of the meeting or all at the very end.
Your company meetings don’t have to—and shouldn’t—have the bad connotation of being boring or a waste of time. To keep your employees engaged during company meetings, be sure to plan ahead, start on time, keep your meeting on track and focused on its purpose, discuss one talking point at a time, avoid overwhelming your team with low-priority information and limit questions to designated times to not disrupt the flow of the meeting.