1. Let Them Contribute
This is the one thing that will make or break a meeting. It’s so hard to do and absolutely must be a rule you follow to keep ideas flowing and to allow people to contribute in their way without a filter being applied or any kind of judgment on their ideas. You shouldn’t moderate anything in an effective meeting and really anything goes. All ideas. Weird, difficult, unrealistic and any other ideas must be allowed. These, in fact, allow people to be comfortable with the creative process and you want to promote and encourage ideas, not instill fear of blurting out a dumb idea. There is no reason to have any criticism in a meeting (or anywhere else for that matter) and if you see that happening at any time, put an end to it and reinforce that you welcome weird, and what even seems like bad ideas.
2. Let Them Talk To Thy Neighbor
Encouraging participants to idea build during your meeting can substantially increase outcomes. NO IDEA IS OFF LIMITS (see #1 above) and all thoughts should be received well and listened to. You never know when that magical moment of playing off each other’s idea is going to spark the next big swing in direction your team moves in – so squelch the Shhhhhhhh’s and watch the creativity fly!!
3. Let Them Think Ahead
How many meetings have you attended that started out with the meeting facilitator passing out a ream of handouts or projecting a PowerPoint slide for discussion. The mere thought makes me cringe – it’s uber frustrating! A group read along is hardly productive for goal accomplishment. For MAX productivity and assurance of results – send all participants the PowerPoint deck 48 hours before the meeting time and let them prepare AHEAD for your discussion. Allowing your participants to do pre-work on charts, graphs and reading material is a sure fire way to gain maximum engagement in your meeting and will hands down give you the “Best Presenter of the Day” award.
4. Let Them Focus
When at all possible, get them out of their natural office surroundings. THINK DISTRACTION FREE! You may think that being “close to home” is the way to go and will cut the cost of your meeting, but email, phone calls and co-worker interruptions COST YOU AND YOUR MEETING PRODUCTIVITY more than a day at an offsite. Find venues that know how to cater to your meeting objectives and agenda. Those venues are worth their weight in gold.
Meetings aren’t going away (we don’t think they should). They are a necessary part of our every day work life. Creating effective meetings however, take time and a little creativity to improve morale, increase productivity and substantially increase engagement. When those three benefits happen – you’ll never go back to that boring old PowerPoint deck again (Thank goodness!!)