Meetings is required from time to time, not all meetings are effective meetings, people get interrupted, check their smartphone, not following meetings outline, so what do we do to get an effective meeting. I will try to give you tools that you can use at your organization to have effective meetings.
Here are some of my favorite group facilitation tools and tips for captivating the attention of participants and accomplishing meeting objectives:
Switch of the smartphone – one of the most effective tool to get full attention from the people attending your meetings is to ask them to switch of the smartphone or mute it.
Have clear meeting objectives – Meet with key leaders and stakeholders prior to the meeting to define the objectives needing to be accomplished during the meeting. These become your ultimate targets.
Written Agenda – Seems obvious doesn’t it? You’d be surprised how many meetings I have attended where people don’t know why they are there. A written agenda at the very least provides a good framework to channel discussions. Send it out ahead of the meeting, so people can prepare.
Involvement – Make the meeting fun, engaging and interesting by constantly changing the dynamics. Use open-ended questions to get them talking 10 times the amount of time you do. If you talk too much you will never know the value they can contribute.
Spare the Slides – Too many wordy slides are boring and put people to sleep. They’re too passive. Use them sparingly to tee up an agenda item or exercise with as few words as possible. And, remember, “A picture tells a thousand words.”
Storyboarding – I love to use colorful Post-It Notes to gather participant input in their own words. It is also a good way to diffuse dominant personalities and give everyone (even the quiet contemplative ones) equal opportunity to provide input during the process. It’s a great way to keep people focused on the agenda item being discussed, and it moves things along much quicker.
Bin Items – That said, if the group starts to get off track discussing something other than agenda items, capture it on a “Bin” flipchart to address another day. It lets people know that you heard them and that their ideas won’t be forgotten but yet you can move on and refocus on that day’s agenda.
Small Group Activities – Use small group activities when you need to hone in on different facets of an idea. Then bring the large group together again and let the other participants add their input. This enables you to efficiently work on several dimensions of a topic simultaneously.
Acknowledgement – Post all of the group’s work on the walls during the session so they can see what they have accomplished during your time together. Compliment them for their great work from time to time.