Meetings can be something of a double-edged sword: you need to communicate in the room together, but the general nature of group communication can bore them out of paying attention. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can build some specific habits that will not only make your meetings easier on everyone, but can make them more productive and valuable to the company.
Be on Time
As a child, you may have heard someone say to you, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Even if you didn’t experience this personally, you can probably already feel your respect fading for this imaginary person. A good leader does not ask his followers to go where he would not willingly go himself, so lead by example. If you want people to show up on time, then you need to be there before everyone. You also need to start on time. Accommodating the late arrivals not only disrespects the punctual, but it tells your employees that you operate on their schedule and not the other way around.
Build a reputation for punctuality and expect the late arrivals to adjust accordingly. People will understand that you take your time and theirs seriously.
Keep it Relevant
Unless someone’s job is directly affected by sales, they likely aren’t terribly concerned with sales goals, projections and obstacles. The purpose of your meetings should pertain to the people you’ve called to the room. That seems like common sense, but how often do your meetings get sidetracked by one department talking about specific details that might better be discussed in a meeting of their own? As the leader, it is your job to keep things on point. Step into a conversation when necessary and bring it back on track. If the conversation doesn’t relate to their work, they are less likely to stay focused and may miss something important that follows.
Consider the Learning Styles
In spite of our general similarities, we humans can vary quite differently as individuals. One important way is our learning style. There are four types of learners: Visual, Aural, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic. Nobody is limited to one type, but everyone has a method they prefer. Get to know your employees learning styles by paying attention to the way they listen.
Visual learners will appreciate your visual content: infographics, charts, pictures. Aural learners get lost if there is too much visual information and not enough to listen to. Don’t put everything up on the screen; hit the major points on your slide and then summarize. Reading/Writing learners are pretty self explanatory, so provide pencil and paper at the meeting for those who need to be taking notes.
The Kinesthetics learners were often the children in school who were disruptive and couldn’t sit still. The more you can involve them in the meeting, the more they will be engaged. Use them for group exercises and demonstrations; try putting them in charge of advancing the slides or some other method of active involvement.
If you don’t know what you’re trying to say, don’t be surprised if nobody else does either. Have a clear understanding of the topic at hand. If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. Nothing ruins focus faster than rambling on about a vaguely defined idea because you didn’t take the time to make it clear for yourself. Get to the point and move on. People will be able to follow along if you’re clear. Trust them to understand and don’t over saturate them with repetition or needless expounding.
Just because people seemed to have a clear understanding during the meeting, doesn’t mean they weren’t immediately distracted back at their desk. Your employees are humans and human memory is imperfect. Send a follow up email with decisions that were made, actions that need to be taken, and any other pertinent details. It will serve as a reminder that they can also refer to later on their own time. It also conveniently puts everything in writing should their be any future discrepancies about what was actually said.
Overall, these efficient habits will make your meetings more productive because they will feel like productive places. People will be more likely to come prepared if they realize a meeting matters and isn’t taken lightly. The better you run your meetings, the better your company will run as a result.