A Guest Post By Lauren Bailey
The inimitable Captain James T. Kirk of Star Trek fame once said, “A meeting is an event in which minutes are taken and hours are wasted.” Still, if you work in business, you know that regardless of the value of meetings, they still happen and will continue happening for the foreseeable future. If you are in position in which you must lead meetings, here’s your chance to prove that while most meetings suck, it doesn’t have to be that way. Setting up useful meetings, however, is a tricky business. Here are a few tips for leading meetings that people actually want to attend.
Aim For Short Meetings Not Exceeding Thirty Minutes
If there’s one thing that you as a leader should know about people working in an office is that they generally have very short attention spans. Even if every single minute of your two-hour meeting is crammed with useful information, it’s likely that those attending will stop listening after a relatively short period of time, thus negating the value of your meeting. Keep it short and sweet.
Involve Everyone Attending
The best way to get workers excited about a meeting is to make them feel as though each of them plays a significant part. As such, make sure to structure your meeting so that you can incorporate feedback from everyone. Don’t just leave the floor open to comments at the end of the meeting, during which most people are already tired and not as willing to contribute. Insert opportunities for participation throughout the meeting by asking specific questions.
The fastest way to disengage your typical office worker and put her to sleep is to create a PowerPoint presentation for your meeting. Of course, sometimes visuals can help lend focus to your meeting, but let’s face it—most PowerPoint presentations suck. If you do want to add visuals to your meeting, use alternative presentation programs like Prezi, which is much more engaging. Also, don’t use your presentation as a crutch; use it to enhance the points you’re making.
Speak in Plain English
Corporate jargon is another meeting no-no. If you truly want your meeting to be effective, just speak as you normally would when having a polite, professional conversation. That means cutting out the clichés you may be used to using by now, phrases and words like “value-added,” “going forward,” “core competencies,” etc. Always remember that you are speaking to room of human beings.
Have a Definite Goal or Goals in Mind
If you’re calling a meeting because you want to hear yourself talk, then it’s best to reconsider having the meeting in the first place. An effective meeting always establishes a set of goals that needs to be accomplished, and it also develops a roadmap for achieving these goals.
Not all meetings will turn out as successfully as you may have planned. At the same time, however, if you make an effort to keep things simple, casual, and upbeat, you’d be surprised by what meetings can actually accomplish. The best feeling in the world is leaving that conference room knowing that you and your team have a clear direction for meeting goals.
This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99 @gmail.com.