Time is a valuable asset, and most people don’t want to spend theirs in meetings. After all, there are only so many hours in the day to actually get things done. Emails are piling up and projects are paused when the team is sitting in one of those meetings.
Yet, meetings can be extremely worthwhile if they’re thoughtfully executed. Here are six strategies you can employ to make your next meeting more productive.
1. Create a Meeting Agenda
This is the foundation of your meeting. The agenda sets out the topics that will be covered, in the order they will be covered, and can even include a set time frame for each topic. Sharing the agenda and any related documents with meeting participants a day or two before the meeting will help them prepare for the meeting and will keep everyone on track.
Be sure to also include any scheduled breaks on the agenda and other important information for meeting attendees.
2. Start and End on Time
This is a simple matter of respecting others’ time. The agenda should include the event’s start and end time, so be sure to stick to those set parameters. There’s nothing wrong with ending the meeting a little early, it might even be a nice surprise for participants; but they likely won’t be as forgiving if it goes too long, and their attention will most certainly wane.
If questions and side discussions arise during the presentation that can’t be addressed quickly, agree to talk offline or set up a separate meeting to discuss those issues.
3. Keep Meals Light
Whether your meeting includes lunch or dinner, make sure the fare is light enough so guests aren’t crashing afterward. A heavy meal makes for a sluggish meeting participant. Curb that post-meal lethargy with light, healthful food that fuels participants rather than drains them.
4. Provide Activity & Interaction
This is especially important if your meeting or event continues after a meal break. Activities or interactive sessions are an entertaining way to maintain a high level of focus during the meeting.
The activity can be as simple as asking participants to stand up for a 10-minute presentation or to brainstorm ideas. If the group is small enough, you might suggest meeting on the venue’s patio for a quick discussion of the topic at hand. People will pay closer attention and be more mindful when you do something a little unexpected.
5. Make It Engaging
No one really enjoys sitting through long-winded “lectures,” even if the subject matter is relevant. Succinct, interactive presentations are more engaging, and will keep participants tuned in to what you have to say, whether you’re presenting facts, figures or marketing initiatives.
Start by capturing the audience’s attention with an impactful story or tease about what they’re about to hear or learn. If you get their attention up front, chances are you’ll keep it. Avoid talking to only the points outlined in a PowerPoint. And if possible, keep your presentation to less than 30 minutes. The more succinct and interactive the presentation is, the more engaged your audience will be.
6. Follow Up
If it’s a large or complex meeting, be sure to survey attendees following the event. You can do this at the end of the meeting, with a hard-copy survey attendees fill out and hand in or by emailing an electronic survey within the first couple days after the meeting.
Surveys are a valuable way to collect important feedback about meetings. Was the event informative? Did it meet expectations? Was it too long, or not long enough? Were the speakers/presenters engaging? Were the activities stimulating? Were the meals/snacks exceptional or below par? Any feedback you receive will help you create an even more polished and productive meeting in the future.
Looking for a venue for your next meeting? Douglas County Libraries offers meeting and event spaces and services appropriate for everything from corporate functions to social events. Our experienced Event & Hospitality Services staff will work with you to accommodate the style, size and complexity of your event.
For more information about the library’s meeting and event spaces and services, visit DCL.org/event-services or call (303) 688-7605.