7 Ideas to Make Your Meetings More Engaging

Charlie Bedell

Meetings give your team space to collaborate and spark your next brilliant idea, whether you are gathering in-person or virtually. To make the most of your time, you need a plan that keeps your team engaged and focused on your goals. Coming up with new ideas to make your meetings fresh can be challenging, but the results are well worth the effort.

Try some of these ideas to boost engagement in your next meeting.

1. Start the meeting with a fun icebreaker

Setting the tone for the meeting with an icebreaker can help people feel more relaxed and open to participating.

Icebreakers don’t have to be awkward. Here are a few icebreakers that can work in a professional setting – in person or virtually:

  • Two Truths and a Lie: Each person tells two truths about themselves and one lie. Everyone else has to guess which one is the lie.
  • Word Association: Someone starts by saying a word and the next person follows with a word that’s related.
  • Would You Rather: Ask a series of “would you rather” questions to get people to open up and get to know each other.
  • Group Trivia: Play a trivia game with the entire group or break into teams and create a competition.

2. Give everyone a chance to participate

Productive meetings mean everyone is engaged – not just those who find it easiest to participate. Be sure that everyone is given the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions.

Allowing space for everyone to contribute takes some thought. Consider these tips to encourage participation:

  • Take regular pauses to encourage people to speak up with questions or comments
  • Provide an agenda before the meeting so people can arrive prepared with information or questions
  • Ask for input from all participants during the meeting, and pause for at least 5 seconds after asking to allow time to respond
  • Summarize key points and decisions made during the meeting, outlining next steps and each participant’s action post-meeting

3. Use visuals

Research has found that most of us learn best with visuals. Leverage this strategy to better engage your meeting participants.

Providing visuals such as infographics, videos, or presentations can help keep people engaged and focused on the topic.

Visuals don’t just have to be pictures – think outside the box about what kinds of visuals you can use. Here are a few ideas to include in your meeting:

  • Infographics: These can be used to quickly explain complex data, ideas, and strategies.
  • Flowcharts: Flowcharts can help to illustrate processes and workflow.
  • Slideshows: Slideshows are a great way to present ideas and information.
  • Videos: Videos can be used to engage the audience and provide an entertaining way to discuss a topic.
  • Mind maps: Mind maps can be used to map out ideas and to show the relationships between various concepts.

4. Change up the location

With virtual meetings, changing the location of your meetings is easier said than done. But taking meetings to different places can help make them more exciting and memorable.

Changing the location of a meeting can be beneficial in a variety of ways. It can help to foster creativity and enthusiasm, as a new space can stimulate new ideas. It can also give attendees a sense of excitement and help keep them engaged.

There are a few creative ways to encourage engagement by making changes to a meeting’s location, even if they’re virtual.

For at-the-office meetings, choose another meeting room or take the meeting outdoors. Get moving with a walking meeting if your group is small enough.

For virtual meetings, encourage participants to take their devices to another space inside or outside of their home. Or change your meeting background to one that will spark conversation or a few laughs.

Anything to make your meeting more memorable, including changing locations, can help morale and refresh your attendees.

5. Make it interactive

What do you think of when you picture a traditional meeting? Probably a lot of sitting still. This can lessen the engagement in your meeting.

Incorporating activities such as group exercises, brainstorming sessions, or role-playing can help keep people actively participating in a physical way.

Consider these interactive options for your next meeting:

  • Use online tools and apps like breakout rooms, polls, Q&A forums, or mind maps
  • Create small discussion groups that breakaway from the meeting and return after a certain amount of time to share their ideas with the whole group
  • Mix up the seating arrangements: sit in a circle instead of around a table, take a walking meeting instead of sitting, or meet standing up!
  • For longer meetings, encourage attendees to get up, stretch, and walk around for a few minutes

6. Make the agenda clear

Sending a brief agenda for the meeting in advance allows participants to arrive prepared. Knowing what to expect helps participants stay engaged in the meeting.

Here are a few tips to help you define, create, and share your meeting agenda:

  • Determine the meeting’s goal: Identify the purpose of the meeting and what outcome is expected.
  • Identify the attendees: Who will be attending the meeting and what roles or responsibilities do they have?
  • Set a realistic timeline: How long will the meeting last and when will it take place?
  • Determine the meeting’s topics: Decide what needs to be discussed and the order in which they will be discussed.

Agendas also help you stay on track during the meeting and keep your team focused. Use these ideas to leverage your agenda: 

  • Make sure to start the meeting on time and stay on schedule as much as possible.
  • Monitor the discussion to make sure it stays on track and that all participants have an opportunity to contribute.
  • Assign actions to relevant individuals and set deadlines for completion.
  • After the meeting, follow up with attendees to ensure that all actions have been completed.

7. Stick to the schedule

The worst enemy of productive meetings? People’s attention spans. There is evidence that our attention spans are limited

To ensure productivity, keep attention spans in mind and structuremeetings so they’re to the point and as short as possible.

These tips can help you accomplish more in less time:

  • Set an agenda and time limit in advance and stick to it.
  • Start the meeting on time and stay on schedule.
  • Minimize distractions and rabbit holes by keeping the conversation focused.
  • Summarize and recap key points throughout the meeting.
  • Make decisions quickly and move on.
  • Conclude the meeting with a summary of talking points and after-meeting actions.

Your meetings reflect the culture of your organization – the more dynamic your meetings are, the more you can empower your team.

Make sure you take time to prepare for your meetings, so they are valuable opportunities to make progress toward your goals. Follow these tips to ensure your meetings are more engaging, productive, and efficient.

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