Slowly but steadily your participant’s attention is fading. Phones get checked, emails answered and doodles scribbled. But once the focus is gone, the meeting success is out of reach. Nevertheless, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you as the speaker to increase participation.
Encourage Your Audience
Show your team that their different opinions are all valued by you and the decision makers. Welcome ideas and be open to suggestions on all kinds of topics. Ask for constructive input and let them speak their mind. You will be surprised by the high-quality content that you will collect.
Work towards a high level of diversity, not only in your team but also in the structure of your meetings. Include different skill sets in finding solutions for your problems and make sure that even the silent ones get their turn to speak. Don’t forget, still, water runs deep.
Letting people be a part is especially important in the case of discussions. These can quickly get out of hand, be too long and just simply boring. Enabling participants to influence discussions in a positive way can avoid pure boredom.
If you take people for a fool and ask their opinion while you actually don’t do anything with it is bad. Sooner or later they will spot this and participation will decrease rapidly, even worse, people might be demotivated to do work for you. If something is already decided, why not just communicate the truth even if they don’t want to hear it? You have a good chance of being respected for taking them seriously, being honest and fair.
Pay attention to the external circumstances
To increase the overall participation, outside factors are more important than you think. Something that always has to be part of a meeting is coffee. It doesn’t just give a little caffeine kick, it helps with the general concentration. Tea is a good idea too for people that drink no coffee.
Almost more importantly, pay close attention to the time you schedule a meeting. Monday morning at 8 AM or Friday night at 5 PM seems like a great idea, nobody has anything pre-scheduled, right? Well, they don’t because they don’t want to be rushed into the week or be late for a weekend. When planning a meeting, the right time isn’t too early in the morning neither too late in the day. Right around the afternoon energy slump isn’t the best choice either.
No seriously, being active with your body actually increases active mental attitude. Don’t overdo it though, there is no need to do a mini triathlon during the meeting. Standing up, moving around can be good. Impact of sessions where you do something together are more memorable than those many sitting and listening sessions.