We’ve all sat through bad meetings. A lot is said, but nothing gets accomplished. No one leaves with action items they can work on, and employees are just as fuzzy on what’s next as they were before the meeting.
If this happen too often, your team members will begin to tune out. While creating my company, which is focused around helping people run productive meetings, I’ve learned a lot about business meeting best practices.
The goal of business owners is to create an atmosphere where vital information and ideas can be exchanged and imparted. If that’s not happening at your meetings, here are several practical tips on how to get your people more engaged based on our own experiences at Do (Do.com).
Your team is there for a reason. If you’ve done your job correctly, your team should be made up of people who are talented, intelligent, and capable. If you aren’t letting them join in on the discussions, then their capacity–and time–is being wasted.
You don’t need to have all of the best ideas. That can be tough to admit as a business owner, but you’d be surprised by the kinds of positive contributions your team members can make to the business.
If you’re looking to solve a problem, then hold brainstorming sessions. Give everyone a chance to chime in with his or her thoughts. Don’t be too quick to judge ideas, either. If you’re brainstorming together, then there are no bad answers.
Be open to varying views, and work together to arrive at solutions. A unified team can accomplish immeasurably more than a lone wolf. Utilize the power of brainstorming sessions to get your people more engaged.
Believe it or not, removing the chairs at your next meeting can supercharge the session. A June 2014 study conducted by Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin Business School, found attendees who stood up had higher levels of engagement and became more creative in brainstorming.
The study was carried out using body sensors on two separate groups of participants. The results were clear cut.
Doing a daily standup can combat meeting attendees from tuning out. Removing the chairs will put them in the zone.
As a business owner, you’re always going to have something to share at meetings. The problem is the information you’re trying to relay can quickly turn to a lecture rather than a discussion.
If you set goals for the meeting with your entire team, it then gives everyone a chance to pitch in. Plus, those who contribute ideas are more likely to participate and engage. Get everyone to voice his or her own thoughts, and write down every idea on a whiteboard.
It may seem a little overwhelming to try to tackle everything, so begin to streamline objectives. Group them together in categories, or identify when different people are voicing the same types of concerns. Once you have all of the goals on the table, then you’re ready to begin a productive discussion.
Incentives and rewards don’t need to be fancy. Just the fact there’s some kind of reward for attending a meeting–like food–will help to create a positive association with meetings in the minds of your employees.
Your team members will be more engaged knowing they will be rewarded for attending and participating. At times, people are more motivated by immediate gratification than higher interests. This isn’t to say they aren’t interested in matters more important than food, but treats are always welcome.
Incentives are motivating. They give people a reason to show up, engage, and get involved in conversations. Take some time to think about what you can do to reward team members, and what will help them to focus more.
Remember to come prepared and try to eliminate any filler from your meeting. If everyone is going to be involved, you can end up wasting a lot of time on trivial points. Being prepared can help mitigate that.
On the same note, make sure to create an established framework for meetings, so everyone knows the protocol. A clear structure can help to create a productive routine. Try to keep meetings fast-paced and succinct. No one should have too much time for his or her mind to wander off.
Meetings can be time wasters and productivity killers if not used correctly. Try to improve a little bit at a time if sweeping changes are difficult to make.
Jason Shah is the founder of Do, formerly of Yammer and INeedAPencil.com.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program.