When scheduled, team meetings are perhaps the most vital part of that day. For some companies, they are the only time when certain issues can be addressed, because the team members don’t see each other eye-to-eye in the offices. Which is why each opportunity to work on teamwork and have a productive meeting is crucial to the presenter, aka you. To avoid pitfalls and maximize the time allotted for the meeting, we singled out five tips that could turn everything around for you and your team.
Bullet Points are Your Friends
“People who want to appear clever rely on memory. People who want to get things done make lists.” – Peter McWilliams
There is probably no need to emphasize the absolute necessity of bullet points, especially if others will get to see them. The truth is, no matter how great of a presenter you are, unless you want to listen to your own voice for thirty minutes to an hour, with none of the employees saying anything, the meetings are going to get derailed. Discussions can last longer than anticipated, and it’s easy to lose your thread. Bullet points remind you of the next topic. Take it a step further – add new bullet points as other important questions and concerns arise during the meeting. Bullet points also force you to practice your speech without reading off of the paper, as it can come across as unprofessional, unless you are reading raw data.
Avoid Raw Data
“The problem with speeches isn’t so much not knowing when to stop, as knowing when not to begin.” – Frances Rodman
Speaking of data and numbers, they should never stay prominent in a meeting. It’s okay to make them the focus of a section, but not okay to turn it into a pure numerical recital. People will get bored and their attention will drop. To avoid this, build discussions and questions around the data reports, and engage people in discussing each of them. Many fall in the trap of turning their meetings into a robotic presentation, staring at their papers or screens – never keep your gaze fixed on one point. Look at employees, and shift your glance from one to another, it creates a better connection.
“None of us is smart as all of us” – Ken Blanchard
When discussing problems on the project, things can escalate fairly quickly. Employees tend to place the blame on someone or something else, out of fear of reprimand, both by the boss and their peers. To prevent any finger pointing and arguments, use and abuse brainstorming. Explain the problem, offer a possible solution, then step back to oversee the team as they discuss how to solve it. Keeping them focused on the end goal instead of the cause will move them in a positive direction. Even better, if your office has those nifty glass white boards for brainstorming, bring a whole bunch of markers and post-its to turn it a little more fun.
“The art of communication is the language of leadership” – James Humes
We all had that one high school teacher, or college professor, or a course lecturer who did nothing but listen to the sound of their voice during the entire presentation. And we all remember how dull and repetitive it was, not to mention not in the least engaging. The meeting room is like your classroom, and your team is your class. Manage it wisely. Be engaging, support open but respective communication, and learn to ask questions that will get the proverbial ball rolling. Not only will the team respect you more, but a vibrant communication among peers is bound to give way to new ideas and much better and healthier problem solving.
Earn Respect Through Leisure
“Be so good, they can’t ignore you” – Steve Martin
This point goes almost hand in hand with the previous one. People don’t like to be stuck in in long meetings where they have very little to say. And even if they are being engaged, it shouldn’t be by force, but by personal choice. What can you do to encourage a lighter mood? Try to formulate questions in such a way that the team wants to talk about them, and allow chatter and occasional jokes to lighten the mood. Lastly, if you finish the daily agenda under the allotted time, let people go, as it will make them feel that their time is valued.
What Did we Learn?
Meetings have negative connotations tied to them. They are either dull, serious, or frightening (because people tend to think they are about to get reprimanded for something, even if they did nothing wrong). But with all abovementioned points kept in mind, you should now have a general idea on how to keep the meetings lighthearted and engaging. Have brainstorm sessions when you want to discuss problem solving, keep your statements short and concise, and let the team do most of the talking. You should be the one directing the spotlight, not standing under it, to make for the most productive team meetings.