How to Hold Employee Attention at Meetings

Employees stumble into meetings tucking in their shirts and clinging closely to their now lukewarm cups of coffee, which might as well be pillows. Their minds are elsewhere, and the report you have to go over is extensive.

Then, you get sidetracked, and the meeting runs longer than intended. After all this, managers expect employees to hit the ground running, but they’re far from motivated. They’re bored and disengaged. Here’s how to hold employee attention and hold better meetings that matter.

1. Define Why

Why are you holding this meeting in the first place? Spend time talking less about what — such as reading status reports — and more on the why.

Also read: 3 Ways Purpose-Driven Organizations Increase Employee Engagement

Talk about the high notes and need-to-knows, and move on to address the purpose. Discuss significant events, and leave free time to brainstorm or for employees to connect with one another.

2. Give Attendees Ownership

No one wants to attend a meeting to be read to or listen to someone go on and on about their professional ego. Give attendees ownership of the meeting through more participatory discussion and developmental activities. Place employee concerns on the agenda.

When you give employees ownership of a meeting, they’ll feel more engaged and ready to participate actively. Why not let employees take turns facilitating more easy-going meetings?

3. Keep Meetings to Only 20 Percent of a Person’s Day

Make meetings 20 percent of your daily schedule, and encourage your employees to do the same. Of course, if you must meet — then, you must. However, this percentage goal cultivates a better environment and philosophy for approaching the work day as well as increasing performance and job satisfaction.

4. Don’t Waste Time

Many managers shorten meetings to 30-minute intervals to hold employee attention knowing that 50 percent of employee time is wasted in unnecessarily long meetings. Among 11 billion meetings are held daily, and $37 billion also gets thrown away on these meetings. The more meetings workers attend, the more exhausted they feel and can’t perform their duties.

5. Lead Employees by Example

In business, leading by example is prized as a strategy to model ideal professional behavior and strategic practices. Reciprocity also matters in building trust and a healthy work culture that must extend to meeting times.

Also read: How to Identify and Hire Servant Leaders

So, practice what you preach and expect. Come to meetings prepared and on time. Wait your turn, and limit interrupting when employees speak. Your employees will respect you more.

6. Focus More on Experience

While some meetings may be mandatory, they can still focus on experience, development and fun. Make it a leadership goal to infuse experience into all meetings.

Come up with themes. Select an attendee to take care of food and a fun brief 10 or 15-minute activity. Celebrate a team member at every meeting. Give a gift card for a job well done. Invite rescue shelter animals to attend the meeting with you.

When you cultivate an experience, it makes the meeting more meaningful for the employees. It’s also a small way of showing you appreciate them with positive reinforcement.

7. Talk About More

Exchange the term “meeting” for words like “open forum,” “exchange” or “meet-up.” Choose a topic, such as “personal goals” and offer workshops and resources in a casual setting to help employees talk about more outside their duties. At the next exchange, start an impromptu book or article club where you’ll all show up and discuss what you learned from your reading.

Experts talk about the need for workers to practice more self-care, feel engaged at work and accomplish their personal goals. Here is a way to help your employees feel like the organization cares about their personal happiness and development because the person behind the professional matters, too.

8. Host Active Meetings

More studies show that standing is just as productive as sitting, but shifting positions is important throughout the day. The body needs to change positions to avoid injury and maintain circulation, among other reasons. Employees get limited breaks and push through endless expectations on the job and at home.

Also read: The Why’s and How’s of Walking Meetings

So, host active meetings and give employees a chance to get out and about in a different scene. Focus on low-intensity but pleasant activities, such as taking a walk in a nearby nature park. Supply bug spray!

Hold employee attention at meetings by knowing the why behind the what of your meetings, and don’t waste employee time. Make meetings meaningful, fun and active as you address significant matters.

Your employees will feel more engaged and find meetings rewarding. Watch productivity, contributions and job satisfaction soar as a result of redefining what business meetings mean at your company.

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