What Happens in the First Five Minutes of Your Meetings?

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. That old saying usually applies to when you make someone's acquaintance. Managers can use this advice in a unique way to improve their meetings.

Few team members relish the idea of spending time in meetings, especially when they think there is nothing in it for them. You can make the right impression on your employees by changing how you start meetings. As far as Elise Keith is concerned, the first five minutes of a meeting matter most. What you do as the meeting organizer sets the tone for what is to follow.

Greeting Your Participants

Do you usually sit in your chair and play with your phone until everyone comes into the conference room? Think about the message you’re sending: Basically, you don’t care to engage with people. Some managers might get into an intense conversation with one employee and ignore everyone else who comes into the room. This kind of behavior also sends a negative message: That you only want to engage with a favorite employee. 

Try an alternate approach. Stand up and greet each person as they enter the room. When team members receive a warm reception from you, they’ll feel positive about their participation.

Establishing Participant Requirements

Far too many meetings involve a presentation by the organizer and little input by the participants. No wonder people start texting each other while the manager is talking. Each attendee should know in advance what will be required of them. 

As the meeting organizer, you should open the meeting by explaining what you hope to accomplish and what you expect from each participant. Should they each state their position on a proposed change and explain why with supporting details? Explain when and how you expect them to present their ideas. In the first five minutes, you should also state when the meeting will end and who will be responsible for following up on action items.

If you revise the way you start your meetings, you’ll improve productivity and engagement.