16 Simple Ways You Can Lead Engaging Meetings
Engaging meetings are like snow in summer. We’re better than this.
Plan for engagement if you want engaging meetings.
16 Ways to Lead Engaging Meetings:
- Have a junior member of the team lead the meeting. Help them prepare. Discuss facilitation skills and throw them into the deep end of the pool.
- Assign each agenda item to a team member. Their job is to introduce the topic and lead the discussion.
- Prepare people to engage. Add a discussion question to each agenda item. (This tip came from the comments on one of my posts.)
- Share the agenda in advance.
- Eliminate unnecessary participants. The larger the group the easier it is to not participate.
- Divide large teams into small groups for discussion. Ask each small group to report potential action items after their discussion.
- Remember questions that begin with ‘don’t’ or ‘do’ call for short answers. “Don’t you agree,” doesn’t create conversation.
- Ask questions that begin with ‘what’ or ‘how’.
- Ask an individual on the team, “What’s coming to mind for you?”
- Create urgency by shortening the meeting.
- Begin with a moment of humanity. Tell each participant what their name means in a foreign language, for example.
- Seize an opportunity instead of fixing a problem. Ask each person to bring an untapped opportunity to discuss.
- Identify and choose a small action step.
- Create accountability. “In our next meeting please plan to report on the specific actions you took to move this agenda forward.” Be sure to identify, discuss, and commit to specific actions during the meeting.
- Interrupt bloviators. Have a speed round. Everyone has 30 seconds to make one suggestion.
- Define problems in terms of behaviors. “What are people doing/not doing to cause this issue?”
How might managers lead engaging meetings?
1. For each agenda item–state the desired outcome such as:
-Determine our goal
-Make a decision
-Create a list of options
-Assign roles and responsibilities
2. Call on people to give their views
3. Start with a short ice breaker that engages everyone.
Thanks Paul. We could be much clearer about desired outcomes.
These are great ideas, Dan! One additional idea is that as you and the team are talking through an idea, to ask; What worries you about this idea? What excites you about this idea?
Hi Dan, that is a great list!
I would add:
1: Have meetings. We haven’t had any general meetings internally of any size, large or small, on line or face to face, since before Covid kicked off. Informal discussions with two or three participants yes, client zoom calls yes, but general team/group type meetings, not one.
On the one hand we have actually been (much) more productive, but there is a feeling that we might be missing something intangible. So, if you have become habitually anti-meetings, is it time to rethink?
2: If you are going to “eliminate unnecessary participants”, at the same time eliminate unnecessary agenda items. Just because you’ve always had a report on personnel status, you don’t have to in future. If it serves to fill space and use time, be rid of it.
Thank you for this post. I recently started meetings with recognitions and success stories…and chocolate! it definitely got everyone’s attention!
I would add “Have a reason for the meeting.” If you can’t describe the purpose of the meeting in one sentence (and I don’t mean a run-on sentence), then how do you know who should be there, what to discuss, and how long the meeting should be?
I’d add two things that support many of the points raised in the above list:
1. Have the meeting minutes sent out within a day of the meeting. (a) People can correct any mistakes because the meeting is fresh in their mind. (b) People have the details of what the collective is expecting of them to do and have the max. amount of time to get it done before the next meeting.
2. As the meeting chair carve out time between meetings for this, such as send individual reminders to people required to lead their parts of #2 and #14, (re: #14, I ask “will you be able to update us on this or should we table the agenda item. I ask with sufficient days before the next meeting for the person to do something about it. I find that people really appreciate it and tabled items don’t get carried more than a couple of meetings.). Either prioritize being the “chair” or relinquish the responsibility.