14 Tips to Produce Engaging and Interactive Meetings
Even the most enthusiastic among us struggle to keep our eyes open during a dull meeting. Finding yourself in the presence of a speaker droning on and on could register as mild torture. As human beings, it’s in our nature to express ourselves and to interact with one another. Take this away from us, and our attention span begins to plummet. We instinctively search for new ways to stimulate ourselves. As soon as we engage with anything unrelated to the meeting, the meeting is a failure.
The tricky task of producing engaging, interactive meetings while ensuring equal participation rests on the shoulders of the manager. Anyone who finds themselves in this position will admit that this is easier said than done. So, being the benevolent blog writer I am, I’ve gone ahead and compiled a few ice-breaker, ideation, and engagement activities to produce effective and interactive meetings.
Before your Interactive Meeting
Don’t manage your meeting on the fly – put some time and effort into constructing an agenda. Planning ahead is the blueprint for success. Allocate time for each topic to be discussed and stick to it. Supply your attendees with hard-copies of the agenda, they’ll find it easier to engage when they can see light at the end of the tunnel.
- All About Timing
Identify appropriate time-slots on your agenda where you can introduce group exercises and define exactly what everyone will be doing. Don’t distract too much from the overall goal of your meeting.
- Stay Focused
If you are planning on hosting an interactive meeting, it’s best to choose the game that’s relevant to your team or goal and not stray away from this overall point. I once sat through a meeting where outlandish hats were a requirement. In an important business meeting, it introduced an unnecessary amount of levity to proceedings.
- Only Where Appropriate
Remember to consider the type of meeting you’re about to manage. It goes without saying, but there’s no need to run ice-breaker games when everyone attending the meeting is well acquainted with each other. Use these exercises sparingly and only when you think they’re appropriate.
Breaking that Ice
Breaking the ice is crucial in creating interactive meetings. Unless you remove any anxiety or tension from the room and encourage communication and familiarity, the chance of hosting a successful interactive meeting decreases immensely. Here are some classic ice-breaker games:
- Hi, I’m Rod and I like to party
A game that works well both in person and via a conference call. It’s simple, just say your name and something you like to do while not in work. Alternatively, you could share a quirky fact about yourself. Encourage humour, shared laughter is a tried and tested ice-breaker.
Divide people into small groups and ask them to conjure up one word to describe the subject matter of your choice. It could be a product, a company, a person, or if you want to keep it relevant, you could choose topics related to the purpose of the meeting. This gets people acquainted and inspires creativity and lateral thinking.
- No Smiling
Announce at the start of your meeting that no smiling is allowed. Watch the reverse-psychological effects in action as your attendees won’t be able to contain the smiles!
You’ve pulled all these people away from their busy schedules to join you, make the most of their presence. There are several tools you can use to help the flow of ideas and encourage creative thinking.
- Utilise a brainstorming session
Brainstorming is ideal for problem-solving and allows for maximum interaction and engagement among your attendees. Take all views on board, there are no wrong answers in a brainstorm. Use sparingly, over-reliance on brainstorming will end up with a brainstorm session on what to brainstorm next.
- 6-3-5 Brainwriting
If your brainstorming session isn’t generating the level of engagement you require, try this alternative. The project leader pitches the ‘problem statement’ while handing out a sheet with the project statement displayed at the top. In silence, each attendee writes 3 solutions or ideas to the problem statement. After 5 minutes of this, everyone passes their sheet to the left. Everyone then writes 3 more ideas inspired by those already on the sheet. After several rounds, you should be left with dozens, possibly hundreds of ideas and solutions.
- The best worst ideas
By asking your attendees for the worst possible solutions to your problem, you can help remove any lingering self-consciousness they may be harbouring. It’s a lot easier to come up with a bad idea than a good one, so you should generate plenty. Discuss these bad ideas, what could you do to make them good ideas?
Keeping Everyone Engaged
The best length of time for a meeting is about 45 minutes according to Laura Stack, Productivity Pro. Engagement begins to diminish quickly after this. How do we keep our meeting engaging? Here are a few tips you can try out to keep your meeting focused.
- You’re It
Creativity exercises can be tricky to execute when in a video or audio conference. With ‘You’re It’ you swap the role of the call moderator at given intervals. This will require pre-planning so that the order of moderating is clear to everyone and that everyone has had enough time to prepare for their turn.
- Skills Coaching
Organise a short skill sharing seminar demonstrating a new skill or technique to your attendees. Keep each seminar brief and use it to break up the different points in your meeting. This also doubles as a useful public-speaking exercise and can stand to reward and promote skilled employees.
- Whiteboard Wise
Write people’s ideas on a whiteboard for everyone to see. If you’re on a web or video conference, make use of the whiteboard function or use virtual sticky notes. Having one’s idea actualised in a physical format promotes engagement.
- Stand Up
By removing the chairs from the meeting room prior to the meeting or forcing everyone to stand up mid-meeting you uncover the potential for far greater engagement and interaction according to a study from Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin Business School.
It’s a tricky business to keep a meeting engaging and interactive. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Different ideation tools will produce varied results, experiment with these methods until you find the combination that works best for you and your team. One thing is certain, you will need the right platform to host your video web conferencing in order to try out these tools. Check out our Web Conferencing solution for stress-free conferencing! Check out our blog generating more engagement on your web conferences!