A business meeting is more than just an opportunity for productivity — it's also a chance to create meaning and build a high-functioning professional team. With careful monitoring, you can create a meeting experience that helps employees feel connected to their colleagues and the mission of the company.
In many meetings, a select few people dominate the conversation, leaving less gregarious employees feeling ignored or steamrolled. To create a positive meeting experience for everyone in attendance, make a conscious effort to encourage participation and include everyone. Keep an eye on the conversation, and tactfully call on people who have been quiet. Try a simple statement, such as, "Mary, do you have any thoughts from a marketing perspective?" This process is easier when you prepare in advance — for each topic, make a list of the people who are directly affected or who might see the issue from a different angle than the majority.
Change Presentation Modes
Slideshows are a convenient way to present information, but they can also cause an audience to zone out. Alternative presentation tools can shake up your employees and enable a more engaging meeting experience. Ask workers to get creative. Go old-school with printed charts or hand-drawn graphics. If you're discussing a product, bring it in the room for participants to touch and examine. Alternatively, bring the meeting to a relevant location. Talk about operations improvement on the factory floor, or discuss cover art concepts in a bookstore coffee shop. In situations where a slideshow is needed, help employees learn how to create powerful presentations that get the audience thinking.
Many employees spend their day in front of screens. Give your workers a break with a more interactive meeting experience. Instead of taking notes on a computer, use a whiteboard or plaster the wall with oversized paper. Then, ask staff members to make notes or draw sketches as they speak. The simple tactile experience of writing can get ideas flowing and provide a direct connection with the topics at hand. While this option isn't suitable for every meeting, it can be useful for brainstorming, for creative development or to shake a professional team out of a rut.
Meetings can put pressure on employees to posture or prove their worth, which makes it difficult for participants to admit their concerns or struggles. This competitive atmosphere often results in missed opportunities for the group to solve problems with its collective wisdom and experience. Build a more honest, vulnerable meeting experience by asking direct questions that everyone must answer, such as, "What are you struggling with on your current project?" "What doubts do you have about X task?" or "What would you have done differently on Project Y?"
A great meeting experience can go a long way in building strong working relationships. When sessions are efficient and engaging, your employees are more likely to arrive with a positive attitude and a productive mindset.
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