How to keep staff focussed in meetings

Meetings are where the big decisions affecting your business are made. But the attention of your employees can waver if such gatherings overrun or beat around the bush. Here are 5 ways to keep your staff alert and on task.

Think about timing

First and foremost, you need to give some serious thought as to when the proposed meeting will take place.

Meetings first thing in a morning are bad news, especially on a Monday, while those shortly after lunch, when employees are in a post-food coma, can be just as detrimental and unproductive.

&M 3 Feb

Ideally, you should schedule meetings for late in the morning, just before lunch, or late in the afternoon, around 3pm. This is when your employees will be most alert and willing to participate in the meeting.

Take notes

While your employees often prefer not to take notes during a meeting, having them do so will keep them engaged and help them remember the meeting better. Plus it will stop them looking at their phone!

But don’t let them use devices like tablets to take notes. The good old-fashioned pen and paper combination should be used instead.

Getting all of the participants to take notes means you will have their undivided attention throughout. In turn, this could lead to a more productive meeting as staff will have their thinking caps on.

Ask questions

Asking workers questions during a meeting is one of the best ways to keep them on their toes and prevent them nodding off, so make a point of calling on participants for answers or their opinions on the matter at hand.

But make sure you do this sparingly. Asking too many questions could throw the meeting off topic and see it overrun.

You also need to ensure you ask questions that are relevant, so write down a selection on a piece of paper beforehand.

Throw in a break

If you notice that attentiveness and participation is low, throw in a quick break so people can grab a drink and stretch their legs.

You could have tea and coffee brought to the meeting room instead of letting participants wander to the staff room. That way you ensure employees don’t dawdle and the break doesn’t last longer than it should.

A five minute break will suffice. Any longer and participants could actually find it difficult to settle back into the meeting.

Have a clear outline

&M 3 Feb 2People are more attentive if they have a clear expectation of what the meeting will involve and when it will end, so briefly outline what’s going to happen once everyone has settled down in their seats.

Let everyone know what topics will be covered and the approximate time the meeting will finish, give or take a few minutes here and there. You can simply tell them this, or hand out an agenda for them to look at.

Having a defined beginning, middle and end is important. It lets participants know what you want to achieve, plus prevents them thinking “how much longer is this going to be?” during the meeting.

 

Posted by Ashleigh Sharp

 

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