Attention, please! How to keep your team engaged during meetings

Attention, please! How to keep your team engaged during meetings

Keeping meeting efficient and productive is a curveball and I learned it the hard way

One of the biggest challenges as a meeting facilitator to make sure that people are engaged. I developed simple rules that help me to pass meetings relatively successful:

  • Address people by the name
  • Use silence
  • Keep it short
  • Provide agenda
  • Limit attendance
  • Work offline
  • Conclude with a question

Address people by the name

This could be extremely powerful and usually neglected. People can easily ignore meeting discussions unless they are asked by name. Putting them in the spotlight will give you their focus.

Use silence

Silence could be uncomfortable, but when you learn how to harness it - you can use it to help people to open. Sometimes it requires to pass this uncomfortable pause before somebody starts to talk. But be careful that chatty people don’t disrupt it until you get a response from the audience you are targetting.

Keep it short

We cannot stay focused for a long time. Being said that, I feel that any session that requires active ideating should be 30 min to 1 hour.

Provide agenda

Giving people time to think about upcoming discussions will make them more proactive, as they will already come with ideas. I’m not advocating that you need to provide pre-read for each meeting, but at least a proper title and one sentence in description.
Of course you can go Amazon way.

Limit attendance

Meetings tend to grow, and as they grow they become less efficient. Make sure to invite only people who are required.

I feels that most of the time people invite too many people our for political or emotional reasons - FOMO.

Work offline

Last but not least, some people would be never comfortable speaking out during the meetings, whatever atmosphere you create. Give them chance to provide comments offline, in the meeting document, Slack agenda, etc.

Conclude with a question

The logical ending to any meeting is a conclusion/solution/action item, etc. So as a facilitator, your main job is to make sure that a meeting ends with one and you don’t need to follow up. When you have a lot of people talking, one of the simple tricks to help people to align is to do a summary of what you heard in a form of a question: “If I understood correctly, we agree to deliver this feature till the end of the month, right?”.
Usually, such constructions help to bring attention even to people who were not listening as they feel that this is the last chance to change anything.

There is no magic in this advice, they are simple, straightforward, and definitely working for me