We’ve all had trouble getting motivated for meetings. Many times, we resort to doing whatever we can to get the meeting wrapped so that we can get back to real work.
Of course, because the work we do is getting increasingly more interrelated, we still need meetings from time to time. Here are a few guidelines to stay energized and productive during your next meeting.
Set the Right Tone
Treat the first couple of minutes as an icebreaker. Don’t go right into the formalities as soon as the bell rings. We are all human and should first acknowledge that by exchanging light pleasantries, cracking a few jokes to lighten the mood, and even asking other people how they are doing.
The goal is to help everyone feel like a contributor whose attendance and input is not only appreciated, but welcome. Otherwise, participants may not fully engage and will be less likely to follow up on responsibilities when the meeting wraps.
Identify and Solidify Objectives
A good meeting needs a kickoff in the right direction. It is helpful to state what the goal(s) of the meeting are upfront. This gets everyone on the same page, sets expectations, and allows people to warm the topics in their brains before the discussions start.
While a formal agenda can be helpful, especially when there is a lot to cover, it’s not always necessary. If you’re looking for brainstorming and divergent thinking, an agenda might frame the direction too rigidly, stifling the creativity you want to see.
Facilitate Critical Thinking
While discussing topics, facilitate input from everyone in attendance. This not only keeps things lively. It can bring different viewpoints to the table and help everyone feel involved in the decisions that are being made.
It’s okay if not everyone agrees with the final decision. By hearing all viewpoints and concerns, you can build the mutual respect that results in better buy-in and ultimately, follow-through.
Remember to welcome counterpoints during discussions and brainstorming. Ask others to express concerns, or start the process by expressing counterpoints of your own before finalizing a topic. It’s common to hear skepticism or questions. If decisions and planning were easy and consensus was a given, then there would be no reason to have the meeting.
Restate Outcomes and Expectations
A lot of ground can get covered in a meeting. Before you wrap, make sure to remind everyone what you decided and who is responsible for following up on specific items. This ends the meeting on a positive note. By pointing out what you accomplished, you can help people feel that the meeting was a productive use of their time.