Do you feel like a silent observer in your meetings, with no opportunity to contribute your ideas or perspectives? It's a frustrating experience that can lead to disengagement and missed opportunities.
But meetings can be transformed into a dynamic and productive space for collaboration and growth. In this guide, we'll explore 10 strategies to prioritize employee engagement and create meetings that inspire and empower your team. Let's dive in and unlock the potential of your meetings!
1. Define the meeting agenda clearly
While this sounds obvious and simple enough, an undefined agenda seems to be a problem that still plagues organizations. In a study on "Employee’s feelings about more meetings", it is highlighted that employees dread meetings when they lack structure and organization.
One way to address this is by creating a clear agenda for the meeting that outlines what topics will be discussed and the order in which they will be addressed.
On the day of the meeting, make sure to adhere to the agenda, keeping discussions on track and on time. By doing so, you can ensure that your planning and preparation are not wasted and that your employees know what to expect from the meeting.
2. Always celebrate something
Make it a point to celebrate something at every meeting. It can be a team success, like a new process improvement or a timely bug fix. Consider also employee milestones: Do you have someone who is crossing a work anniversary this month?
Celebrating achievements, no matter how small, are a good way to show recognition and help your employees feel appreciated in their roles. This is important in employee engagement and in retaining your top talents: a study shared that 83% of employees found more fulfillment in recognition than in rewards and gifts.
3. Break the monotone
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘meeting’? How excited are you to be part of that?
When employees are not looking forward to a meeting, they’re also less likely to be attentive and participative. This is where rethinking its different aspects can break the monotony and help you to design a more effective and engaging meeting.
Here are 4 ideas for making meetings more refreshing:
Bring in snacks from different cuisines each month. An added benefit: You’ll have a team full of cultured gourmands!
Meet at a different venue. Instead of the meeting room or the usual office spot, find a change of scenery.
Switch up the seating arrangements. Sit in circles, sit beside someone new, or stand if you’d like.
Start with a 5-minute meditation. Help your employees get into a calm, focused state of mind. Staff meetings at Amazon begin with 30 minutes of silent reading.
Whatever you do, introduce something new. For more ideas, check out these 20 fun activities to boost engagement and learning.
4. Try new ways of presenting your message
The researchers at Igloo Software surveyed 1,000 respondents on what aggravates them when it comes to meetings. A good 29% highlighted that “Meetings that use PowerPoint all the time” are a key source of annoyance! Jeff Bezos has banned PowerPoint at Amazon’s staff meetings altogether!
At your next meeting, try a new way of communicating your message. Instead of a one-way presentation from the team leader, adopt a fireside chat approach: Have your leader sit down with an interviewer employee for an open discussion, during which you can also invite employees to contribute their interview questions.
5. Use live audience engagement methods
Audience attention “plummets to near zero” right at the 10 minutes mark, according to biologist John Medina at the University of Washington School of Medicine. If you have any doubts about it at all, think about the last time you were in a lecture hall.
Make a constant effort to engage your employees throughout the meeting, preferably every ten minutes. One way would be to use live polls throughout your meeting agenda. If employees are beginning to zone out, live interaction draws back their attention. Luckily, polls are incredibly versatile!
Here are 3 quick poll questions to re-engage employees at your meeting:
“Which new initiative are you most excited about?”
“Be honest. How sleepy are you?”
“Describe your current mood in one word!”
Such live interaction not only keeps your audience energetic; you get the benefit of immediate, actionable insights into your employee’s psyche.
6. Allow enough time for live Q&A
Employees find meetings the most productive when they gain from them resources that help them perform better in their roles. To this, we say: Let your employees ask questions!
This will help them get the information they need to excel. Live Q&As can also provide immediate gratification for employees who can voice their questions and feel like they are being heard.
More importantly, this is where you will be able to identify the gaps in knowledge and skill set among your employees. From their questions, you can gather valuable insights on any employee frustration or lack of information in specific areas. So give more time to the underdog live Q&A, instead of the last-minute “Any questions?” brushing-off we sometimes do.
7. Empower employees to speak up
Having a live Q&A segment will not be effective, if nobody is actually going to say anything during that time. And it happens — it’s why Q&A is sometimes a synonym for ‘awkward silence’.
We have a deep set of defense mechanisms that make us careful around people in authority positions.
James Detert, professor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.
Encouraging a culture of psychological safety in the workplace can encourage employees to express their genuine opinions and personalities without any fear of being ridiculed or facing negative consequences. This can lead to a more collaborative and innovative environment where people feel valued and confident in sharing their ideas.
Here are 3 tips to help your employees speak up at a meeting:
Use a live Q&A tool to collect questions
Some employees may be shy about speaking in front of an audience, or they would rather not be in the spotlight. To cater to this crowd, use a real-time Q&A tool to collect the questions in the text so that they do not have to physically get to a mic.
Allow employees to submit anonymous questions
It’s common for employees to fear speaking up as they may have the impression that it can jeopardize their advancement in the corporation, according to the Harvard Business Review. As such, consider allowing your employees to send in their questions anonymously so that you can still hear from them, and they may still get their answers.
Leave no employee behind
Opening a mic to the floor gives 3 or 4 employees the chance to ask their questions, depending on how much time you allocate to the Q&A. Instead of this, use a question-collecting tool that gives everyone an equal opportunity to participate. This will help you curate a more engaging and effective Q&A for all your employees at the meeting.
8. Set goals for the next month, together
Ever felt like a cog in the machine? If you have, chances are that everything at work followed a top-down approach. A study on a Swedish hospital with approximately 4500 employees concluded that “the opportunity to influence decisions related to workplace development is important to the workers.”
Instead of dishing out business goals that are produced by the leaders in a closed-door meeting, try this: set goals for the next month together with the team. Another benefit of this is it helps employees to be more vested in the goals, and more motivated to achieve them.
Some key steps to set team goals during meetings:
Crowdsource goals and key metrics
Let employees vote on those that they agree with
Agree as a team on 1-3 goals
Meet them, overachieve them, and celebrate at the next meeting!
9. Send employees post-meeting follow-ups
After you’ve run a refreshing and engaging meeting, deliver the full impact of what has been discussed by doing a post-meeting follow-up. Besides the meeting summary, there are other components you may want to include.
What to include in a post-meeting follow-up:
The specific goals you set together for the next month
Including this in your follow-up reminds employees about their commitment to these serious goals, and that collaborative goal-setting wasn’t just a fun activity.
Any answers to questions that were not addressed during the Live Q&A
If any important questions were not addressed due to time constraints (good job on adhering to the agenda timings!), put the answers in writing in your follow-up. Doing this will further encourage your employees to continue asking questions.
10. Collect meeting feedback regularly
Once in a while, it makes sense to check in with the team on what they think about the meetings. Are they still effective? How can they be improved?
To avoid getting stuck in a new bad meeting cycle, collect feedback on your meetings regularly. Send out a survey, and allow for anonymous responses. This will help your team feel comfortable giving their honest feedback, without fear of repercussions.
Some survey questions might include:
How effective are our monthly meetings? Rate on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most effective.
How useful are our monthly meetings to your work? Rate on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most useful.
How well does the team communicate during our monthly meetings? Rate on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best.
What are some ways we can improve our current meeting format?
Empower your team with engaging meetings
Transform your meetings into a source of inspiration and collaboration for your team by prioritizing employee engagement and participation. Set clear agendas, celebrate achievements, break the monotony, and prioritize live audience engagement and Q&A sessions. By implementing these strategies, you can inspire and empower your team, driving progress and growth for your organization!