Monday, July 1, 2013

How to Take Control of Meetings

Most managers know the frustration of having to lead a team meeting when it’s clear that the participants are barely paying attention. Few moments are more irritating than looking out at a sea of faces that are either staring blankly at you or pretending like they’re not looking at their smartphones. Even when everyone appears to be attentive, few people respond to your questions or involve themselves in the discussion.

So how does a manager take control of his or her meetings? While this is a topic of constant debate for management everywhere, there are several useful methods that can be employed to make sure that your meetings are effective and your employees responsive.

#1: Plan the Meeting at a Time When It’s Convenient

Simply put, if you place your meetings at lunchtime chances are you’re going to end up with a crowd of hungry, unfocused people listening to you speak. The same goes for planning a meeting at the very end of the day when everyone just wants to go home.

In order to make sure your participants are listening to what you say and willing to participate in conversation, try holding your conferences at a time when it’s convenient for them. This can include earlier in the morning or right after lunch.

#2: Hold Meetings with a Purpose

While weekly meetings can be very useful to discussing important company milestones and hitting goals, they often aren’t used to their fullest potential. If you find yourself in a meeting where you’re padding out the dialogue to fill out the hour, then chances are you’re not using your time wisely. Meeting participants may also quickly note your lack of direction and pay less attention when you’re speaking.
Before you hold a meeting, plot out an agenda of talking points. You should always do your best to make sure you’re getting the most from everyone’s time, including your own.

#3: Involve Your Employees as Much as Possible

When one person spends the entire meeting speaking to the crowd, it’s less a discussion and more a lecture. In order to make sure that everyone is giving their full attention in meetings, you should always look at ways to involve them more in the conversation. It’s a rare occasion where everyone actively participates in a meeting, so you should design the meeting to require their involvement.

Next time you set up a meeting, try planning an activity to get people to work together. This could involve small group discussions, unveiling of side projects by employees, and other team-oriented activities.

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