In 2019, studies indicated that there were as many as 56 million meetings per day. The biggest problem: managers ranked meetings as number 1 on the list of time wasters. These unproductive meetings cost over $70 billion to the US economy per year. With the 2020 pandemic, ineffective meetings are even more problematic as teams are forced to meet online, and more often, it is their main vehicle of communication.
Organizations looking to tackle ineffective meetings can make simple adjustments in their remote meeting protocol to create more engagement of attendees. Revamping remote meetings to create more engagement should start with pre-meeting strategies.
Here are 7 pre-meeting strategies to help increase remote meeting engagement and effectiveness:
- Clarify the purpose and create an agenda. This sounds simple but many ineffective meetings start with confusion about the purpose of the meeting and what is supposed to be accomplished. People will be more engaged when they know what to expect and its importance. If there is no defined purpose, then don’t take the time to meet. A simple email may be a sufficient alternative. Think about how long it will take to get through the agenda and, if too long, does in need to be broken up into multiple meetings.
- Determine the technology and length of the meeting needed. There are many ways to meet remotely. These can range in complexity and may be limited/determined by the organization’s IT and firewalls. Ask yourself; Will a conference call suffice? Do you need to share screens or deliver an online presentation? Will the number of participants require a different technology? Take the time to review the purpose and agenda to determine what type of remote technology would be best suited for the meeting.
- Determine attendees and their role in the meeting. Once the purpose, agenda, and technology have been set then it is easier to know who should and/or should not be invited to the meeting. To engage people, assign roles to attendees so that the agenda will show who will be facilitating the meeting, taking the minutes, keeping track of the time, and who is speaking on which topics.
- Send the meeting invitation along with the agenda. Send the meeting invitation along with the agenda to allow people not only to put it on their calendar but also to understand the importance of the meeting. This will allow people attending the meeting to prepare for their role in the meeting, know what they should bring to the meeting, and/or what information to get ready ahead of time.
- Anticipate and plan for potential questions and resistance. To keep meeting participants engaged think about possible questions or resistance to ideas that may come up. Instead of causing the meeting to derail, this will allow ample time to prepare a response to keep people engaged.
- Arrive online early to make sure the technology is set and working. When conducting remote meetings, set up the technology 30 – 60 minutes ahead of time. Keep participants engaged by making sure they don’t have to wait for the technology. Make sure presentations or shared resources that you are using are loaded so can easily download resources.
- Post agenda and start on time. At the very beginning of the meeting make sure everyone either has a copy of the agenda or it is posted in the chat or somewhere everyone can see it. This should include the roles of people in the meeting. Make sure you don’t waste the time of the people that are attending the meeting by waiting for stragglers. Always start on time!
When employees know the purpose of the meeting, the agenda, and what to prepare for in a meeting they are more likely to be engaged. When people are engaged in the meetings, they are more productive and more apt to accomplish the goal set for the meeting. Follow these pre-meeting strategies to increase meeting engagement and productivity for your organization.