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10 Top New Strategies to Running In-Person Meetings

By: Roy Highler

 

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Introduction

In-person meetings are something that can help you keep your team on the same page and improve communication and team relationships all in one event. However, you probably hear some grumbling and groaning about your in person meetings. This could be because your people don’t feel engaged, they’re bored with the routine, or they don’t feel the topics being discussed are relevant to them.

Regardless of the reason, you’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for effective new strategies to running in person meetings that engage your staff.

Encourage Engagement from the Start

The way you start a meeting can set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Skip over boring welcome messages and avoid droning on by listing off the itinerary for the meeting. Find something to shake up the start of the meeting. Use music, a funny video, or a game to get them engaged with you before you start the meeting and then transition into the business portion from there.

“There’s this misconception that every second of the meeting has to be about the itinerary,” says Brianna Bitton, Co-Founder of O POSITIV. “I’ve found that kicking off a meeting with something fun puts everyone in a better mood and increases engagement which helps our in person meetings run more effectively. Another great option is to bring in coffee, donuts, or other refreshments to bring up team morale before an in person meeting.”

Listen to Them

When the world went virtual and remote, a lot of us started using virtual meeting spaces. While they were great at the time, you may have noticed a change in how your staff interacts and how you behave as well now that you’re back in person. Virtual meetings tend to discourage questions and comments because only one person can speak at a time and it just doesn’t feel as conversational. Reminding your staff that they can speak and you will listen can help you more effectively run in person meetings.

“Running an in person meeting doesn’t mean that you’re going to talk and they’re going to listen for the entire session,” says Emily Saunders, Chief Revenue Officer at eLuxury. “If that’s the case, then you might as well send out an email. The purpose of an in person meeting is to hear the thoughts and opinions of your staff as they share their ideas about subjects or raise concerns about changes that are happening. Listen well and encourage participation so your in person meetings can be more effective.”

Incorporate Technology

Just because a meeting is in person doesn’t mean there can’t be an incorporation of technology. Using technology to poll your staff on new ideas, ask questions, take surveys, and help people stay engaged with the presentation.

“There are so many ways to increase engagement of in person meetings with effective new technologies that are meant for hosting meetings,” says Gigi Ji, Head of Brand and Business Development at KOKOLU “From more interactive slideshows to apps and other interactive software, you can make your meeting whatever you want it to be with the incorporation of technology.”

Ask Them Questions

Building on the idea of engaging your staff, flip the meeting around and ask your staff questions. Don’t spend the entire time explaining every detail to them. Instead, ask more questions. Clarify the things they’re not understanding and gloss over the more obvious sections of the meeting. This helps make the most of your time and lets your staff engage with the material which can improve the impact and retention rate.

“Rather than waiting for your staff to ask questions, you can ask them for their thoughts,” says Bryan Jones, CEO of Truckbase. “Not only does this encourage them to think about the subject material, but it can help with overall understanding and 

Praise High Achievers

Setting aside time to praise your staff who have gone above and beyond is a great way to give employee recognition. Public appreciation of hard work can go a long way for your staff who thrive off of external validation. Pay attention to what everyone is up to and as team leaders for input on people who have stood apart through their exceptional work.

“It’s great to have an employee spotlight moment during meetings,” Says Melissa Rhodes, CEO of Psychics1on1. “Employee spotlights don’t have to include a gift, but throwing in a small gift card for coffee doesn’t hurt. This not only adds a bit of excitement to the meeting but it can increase motivation and team morale.”

Send Out Agenda and Main Points

While a lot of leaders will send out a general agenda, many actually avoid sending out all of the talking points and subpoints. Whether it’s because you don’t think people will read it OR you think they won’t show up because they’ve already read the email, it can actually benefit the meeting.

“Running an in person meeting is usually all about making sure people understand the goals and events that are coming up on the calendar,” says Jae Pak, Founder of Jae Pak MD Medical. “Sending out the meeting information with a lot of details can help your staff prepare for the meeting so you can have better discussions and a more efficient use of time. Shorter meetings are great for workplace productivity too.”

Incorporate a Call to Action

Adding a call to action into your meeting ensures your staff will follow up or perform a duty before the next meeting. Whether you want them to fill out a survey, pay attention to a certain detail about their workday, or research a topic, having a call to action can refresh their mind on the meeting topic and lead to individual discovery too.

“Having something to ‘assign’ your staff is a great way to drive home the importance of the subject talked about in the in person meeting,” says Sumeer Kaur, CEO of Lashkaraa. “Let them know you want to hear from them at the next meeting or you could break them into small groups for discussion if your in person meetings are larger. Not only does this help with professional development, but it shakes things up and encourages engagement too. Make sure the ‘assignment’ won’t take too long for them to complete. Half an hour of research or analysis should be plenty.”

Stay on Task

Staying on task can be difficult if you’re leading a team that loves to brainstorm or they tend to be a bit chatty. While remote meetings have the advantage of muting participants, you can’t do this in an in person meeting. Instead, you can use some redirection tactics to ensure the meeting stays on task and on time.

“While you can’t run down every rabbit trail that’s brought up, you also don’t want your staff to feel they don’t have important enough ideas for you to discuss,” says Lionel Mora, CEO of Neoplants. “Sometimes, it’s hard to bring up an idea with other people outside of the in-person meeting because of busy schedules. Rather than shutting down the ideas, take note of them in the meeting’s minutes or notes and send them out in an email instructing others to follow up with that person if they’d like to help with that idea or project.”

Include Team Bonding Activities

Team bonding activities are a fun way to shake up in person meetings while also initiating a bit of professional development. If your team went remote and came back to the office but didn’t seem to be gelling like they used to, they may just need an extra push. Often, if there’s been a lot of turnover or people simply aren’t adjusted to being in person, the bonding activities can be very beneficial.

“In person meetings allow for the opportunity to encourage team bonding through games, activities, or conversation prompts,” says Jayme Muller, Brand Manager of RTA Outdoor Living. “Kick off your meeting by encouraging everyone to feel a bit more comfortable around one another and increase the chance of participation during the actual meeting.”

Send Follow-Up Emails

Sending a follow-up email is a great way to remind everyone of the things they signed up for, teams they joined, ideas that were shared, or other details. This also allows them to quickly search their inbox for relevant information from the meeting that they may have forgotten to write down.

“I like to attach my follow-up email to my pre-meeting agenda so people can see what was discussed and also what decisions or commitments were made during that time,” says Nancy Eichler, SVP Marketing and e-Commerce at iwi life. “I’d rather have everyone present in the moment and participating in conversation rather than trying to take notes so it’s great to have one person responsible for note taking at each meeting so the rest of the group can take advantage of meeting in person to discuss the topics at hand.”

Conclusion

Running an effective in person meeting can be as simple as implementing some new strategies. The strategies listed above are great options to try out. Remember, there is often a learning curve with new things that you might do with your team so it’s important to give it a fair trial before writing it off. Try implementing one or two of these ideas in your next few meetings to see how things go!

Published: October 31, 2022
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