Encouraging participation in meetings

Meetings are often not the favourite workplace pastime and if you have problems getting people engaged and contributing, then you’re not on your own. If your employees are clamming up as soon as the meeting begins then nothing productive is going to occur. You’ll end up droning on and feeling the resentment in the room as you keep people from doing their ‘real work’.

Here are some tactics to encourage more meeting participation:

Be clever with the meeting prep. Aim to schedule a meeting mid-morning or straight after lunch. Too early and nobody will have woken up yet but too late and you’ll attendees will be clock-watching or too tired to focus.

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Keep meetings as concise and short as possible. You cannot hold people’s attention for longer than an hour. Split up the meeting into short slots of different topics and don’t dwell too long on each one or you’ll lose their attention.

Remember you don’t have to have a sit-down meeting. Encourage greater participation by trialling a walking or standing meeting as people will be more physically engaged with their environment. There’s no harm in being a little creative. Choosing the right surroundings for a meeting is also important. Anywhere too cramped, too hot or too dark is not going to be conducive to productivity. Meeting Rooms Windsor are a great idea. For meeting room in Windsor go to http://royaladelaide.com/meetings/

Send out an agenda in advance of the meeting and perhaps delegate a topic to each member of the team. Let them know their expected contribution and role being the meeting. That way there can be no excuses for non-participation.

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Humans are very visual creatures, so make good use of visuals during your meeting. This will hold people’s attention better. Try using a mixture of charts, slides, powerpoint or a video presentation.

During the meeting, regularly ask for questions or queries from the group and invite input from all attendees. This helps to focus thinking on a specific subject and encourages participation through the natural flow of questions and answers.

Reward those in the group who contribute to discussions. Once others realise, they too will want to open up and feel the urge to share their thoughts and ideas.

If you want to foster an air of positivity and agreeability right from the beginning, then discuss something unrelated that everyone will say yes to. This will make them feel more comfortable about saying yes to whatever your agenda is for the meeting.

If you want people to contribute then practice what you preach and offer a great example of listening, understanding and being emphatic to people’s ideas and feelings. Make it clear that you are there to support staff and not work against them. Any confrontation will lead to people becoming defensive and clamming up, so a meeting should never disintegrate into an us versus you scenario. Even when a disagreement occurs, always show respect.