In Part 1 of this article, we gave you five top tips on what you should do, well in advance, to ensure you have an effective meeting.
Here are 3 more preparatory tips to ensure your meeting will stay on track, to stop time-wasting and to encourage employee participation.
1. Solicit staff participation prior to the meeting
There are usually a lot of items on a meeting agenda and neither you nor the other attendees want you to do all the talking. Solicit participation from members of staff in advance. If you are for example, implementing a new payroll system, it may be a good idea to have a member of HR introduce the topic. Ask a member of HR prior to the meeting and confirm this with them.
Mention the meeting to staff in one-on-one conversations. If, for example, an employee has a good idea about the company’s marketing strategy and this is on the agenda, tell them - “great idea, hold that thought for our meeting on the 24th. I'd love you to open discussion of the item with your suggestion.” This empowers staff and encourages attendance.
If discussion of an agenda item relates to a dense report or technical data, send this out prior to the meeting, but also ask a member of staff who is knowledgeable on the subject to explain the key points of the report/data on the day. A member of staff who is given a responsibility is likely to participate more. This tactic also ensures that other members of staff are not lost and can therefore participate too.
2. Have a ‘pre-start’ time and a start time
If you’re inviting a good number of employees, some of whom may work in different departments, and some of whom may be office-based while others are out meeting clients, chances are, they’re going to want to catch up. Schedule a 10 to 15 minute “coffee” session at the beginning of the meeting where attendees can talk amongst themselves, find seats and exchange chit-chat. As soon as it is time to start the meeting, start it. Do not wait for people to arrive or find their seats or grab a coffee. After all, they had time to do so. Make it clear, fairly but firmly, that it's time to get down to business. This will stop the meeting from overrunning, get staff into the right mindset and discourage late-comers.
3. Have a clear finish time
Do not simply block off a whole afternoon for a meeting. Schedule a meeting with a solid finish time. This will not only enable employees to plan their work after the meeting, it will help ensure the meeting stays on track. We tend to be productive when we know our time is limited.
Do you remember those days in school where you thought class would never end? Imagine if those classes weren't split into periods and how much worse it would have been not knowing at what time the bell would ring! A meeting should not bring out those feelings in members of staff. Shorter, more frequent meetings with a clear start and finish time will encourage attendance, productivity and a positive attitude among staff.