Jana Axline

By Jana Axline

Tips for More Engaging Meetings

Tips for More Engaging Meetings 150 150 Jana Axline

Have your meetings become routine? Do you find people mentally checking out of them? This can present a significant risk to your projects and operations. We rely on our teams to be engaged in order to ensure we have all the necessary information to make effective decision, to have the best ideas at the table, and to ensure our initiatives are moving forward effectively. I had the pleasure of having Rich “Trigger” Bontrager on my show. Rich is a presentation coach and is passionate about effective communication through broadcasting. How does this relate to project and team calls? Here are some tips I got through my conversation with him:

Bring the fun. We miss a lot with distributed, remote teams. Without the before and after meeting conversations, the catch-ups by the water cooler, and desk drive-bys, a lot of the camaraderie is lost. Especially in project management, where many of us have been trained to keep everyone on task during meetings. How do you bring in the camaraderie and keep the meeting on time? Plan it in. Set aside the first few minutes of a call for an ice breaker. On one project, each week someone brought a picture of their pet and we were able to ooh and ahh before getting the meeting started. It was a great way to get to know people on a personal level while bringing positivity to the meeting.

Rotate the responsibility. As a project manager, I find I run most meetings…I mean, isn’t a project manager a professional meeting host? Perhaps there is value in rotating the meeting facilitator. As Rich pointed out, this is a way to engage people since they have to prepare for the meeting. They also get to experience what you go through on a weekly basis!

Find ways to make it tangible. Have a pizza party. Have everyone wear their favorite hat. Or as Rich suggested, send a box of surprises out ahead of time to the team and leverage those in the meeting, such as, giving a reward to someone and then having them pull it out of the box.

Energy, energy, energy. The energy isn’t as natural remotely. As the facilitator, you have to bring the energy. The team takes their cue from you. And it’s tough, because sometimes we don’t have the “audience feedback” to keep our energy up. We have to rely on ourselves to bring and maintain it throughout the entire meeting.

Leverage breakout rooms. Breakout rooms are a great way to get people more engaged because they are with a smaller group of people. If you have large meetings where you need to discuss an idea, perhaps break the team out into the breakout rooms, have them discuss, and bring back their top one or two ideas.

Virtual meetings will most likely continue to be a significant avenue of communication. There are a lot of important things to remember, tone, environment, personal brand, and technological equipment. You can hear about all those things on this episode of Corporate CPR, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon. Or watch the episode on YouTube.

Jana Axline is Chief Project Officer at Project Genetics and the author of Becoming You. Through her leadership musings, she inspires audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Project Genetics.