Some people think sitting in meetings equates to getting their jobs done. The rest of us fidget in our chairs until we can get back to work. To be fair, meetings are an essential part of organizational health. There are times when you need to engage in a group think to generate new ideas. You can also take the opportunity to create “a quality experience for each participant” as Paul Axtell suggests.
To add value to your meeting, pay attention to the mood of participants as they come into the room. Regardless of what has happened to you personally right before the meeting, or the event you’re dreading right after the meeting, you owe the participants in the room your full attention and effort.
In today’s fast-paced business environment, it’s tempting to squeeze as much as possible into a meeting agenda. Participants who are sitting around a table listening to you cover one topic after another are not enjoying a quality experience. You could easily deliver that kind of information in an email or on the company’s internal social channels, couldn’t you? To improve the meeting experience, leave enough time to invite comments and discussion. Keep track of who isn’t participating and ask him for his opinion. The invitation should be made in a non-threatening way and you should try to tie your question to the role that individual plays in your organization. Once you do get a response from a usually quiet person, praise her input. Doing so shows you value her as a team member and that you favor inclusive behavior. Value-added meetings are about engagement, and not about allowing the folks sitting around the table to act like zombies.
We’re always mindful that time is money. If you’ve made an announcement or asked a question in a meeting, you’ll be tempted to fill the quiet time that follows with more of your own talking because you don’t want to waste a minute. Hear this. It’s okay to let a pause take over the room. Let people think about what they’ve heard. Allow them to develop their thoughts before speaking.
Before you start your next meeting, review all of Axell’s advice to see how you can improve the experience for everyone involved.