4 Tips for Hosting Better Meetings
Do you have a meeting you need to schedule and manage?
Here are four tips to making sure you and everyone else gets the most from attending.
The physical setting and atmosphere will differ depending on what you want to accomplish in your meeting, how long you expect it to last, and who will be attending. Some issues will remain constant, though. Limit or remove any distractions. Set up a side table near the entrance with anything attendees might need or could have forgotten. Provide note tablets and pens, water bottles, and possibly other drink options like coffee, tea or soft drinks.
Think about anything else you believe you would need if you were attending a similar meeting and then provide enough for everyone. Next, set up in advance any other equipment needed for making presentations. A white board, a screen, or large unfettered wall for PowerPoint presentations, or anything else.
Greet each person as they arrive. Take at least long enough to shake their hand or ask them a question or two about how they are doing. Use this time to ask about any personal items you feel are appropriate. If Mr. Smith’s daughter just presented him with his first grandchild, congratulate him. Ask what they named the baby, and how his daughter is doing. That level of thoughtfulness may turn someone coming in with neutral feelings, to someone a bit more favorably disposed toward you.
At the beginning of the meeting, ask at least one question of the participants that relates to the purpose of the meeting. But, if you can also use this question to learn about concerns or negative thoughts, even better. If you are dealing with customers, find out what they’ve been struggling with as they integrate your product into their work systems. “Or ask employees what they would do to improve … give them one area to discuss only … maybe vending machine selection, or a policy that has been causing problems recently in the company. They may have just the answer you’ve been struggling to find.” says entrepreneur Christopher Burch.
Connect to what matters to them
You can discuss options and policies until you are blue in the face, but if those things don’t matter to the people listening, nothing is going to change. As best you can, go into meetings with an understanding of what the concerns are of the people and connect them to what you are trying to accomplish. If they feel that connection, you won’t have to prod and poke them for every bit of progress once the meeting has ended. If they feel it, and it matters to them, they’ll lead the charge.
Hosting better meetings is often more about being a facilitator rather than a lecturer. Get people talking and thinking about ways to make the situation better and everyone wins.