Whether you work for a company or run your own business, meetings are a way of life. They are a necessary part of collaboration and communication within the workplace. Through regular meetings, companies move the business forward by sharing information, reviewing performance, solving issues, planning projects and making decisions.
However, meetings have a reputation for being dull and unproductive, especially when they continue for a few hours, and sometimes for the whole day. And don’t forget the dreaded afternoon slump that hits almost everyone during long meetings, including the organizer!
According to the findings of a Hilton worldwide study, 1 in 3 attendees admit falling asleep or feeling drowsy during a meeting, and the productivity of the meeting drops down around 2 p.m. No matter how nicely you have set up your meeting venue, some attendees will still feel bored or tired during the period following lunch.
As an organizer of the meeting, you definitely don’t want your audience falling asleep on you. You want them fully engaged and aware of what’s going on at the meeting. They should also be contributing and taking in information in order to really meet the goals of the meeting.
Keep reading to discover how you can make all of this possible, and how to make your meetings more productive.
1. The Night Before
Although afternoon slump is a real phenomenon, sometimes the reason is simply inadequate sleep. If you have any control over your attendees’ activities the night before, you should make sure they get a good night’s sleep.
This is not always possible to do. But if your meeting is happening as part of an event or activity taking place over a course of a few days, you can definitely try to keep your attendees’ schedule clear during the night. A well-rested audience will definitely be more attentive during a meeting.
2. Focus on the Lunch Menu
If you’re going to feed your attendees with high-carb and sugary offerings like muffins, doughnuts, pasta, etc. you’re surely going to see a lot of yawning faces during the meeting.
So if you have a long meeting planned with lunch and refreshments, choose the right food items to be served to your attendees. These include dishes based on fresh salads, lean protein and whole grains. Also, make sure that coffee is available during lunchtime, and throughout the afternoon.
3. Introduce Some Playfulness in Your Meeting Space
After the lunch break, you need to shake things up a little bit by introducing some playful elements into your meeting. This will keep people from feeling bored and they will be re-energized to sit through the whole meeting.
Lighten up the atmosphere by talking about anything other than work. It could be about a recent vacation one of your team members went to or a TV show your team members are hooked on.
Furthermore, you should plan some short and fun activities such as live polls, competitions or brain-teasing quizzes. These are very effective in drawing back attention and keeping attendees from zoning out.
4. Create Stress-Busting Vibes
Stress is another major element that drains energy. Providing your attendees with fidget spinners, stress balls or other unobtrusive objects can be a good way to de-stress during a meeting.
Many studies suggest that people who decompress even briefly with something creative and totally unrelated to their jobs can be much more productive. So de-stressing activities can help team members refocus their minds.
5. Ask Attendees to Stand Up!
You cannot keep people sitting at one place and expect them to give you their complete attention for hours. If your meeting is going to go longer than 3 hours, you need to plan short breaks in addition to any lunch or coffee breaks.
Encourage team members to stand up during those breaks – maybe do a brief exercise or swap seats. Standing improves blood flow and circulation to the whole body and helps wake people up.
6. Celebrate Something
You need to make it a point to celebrate something at every meeting even if it’s a routine meeting. It can be anything including meeting a sales target, a new process improvement, a timely rectification of an error, a team member achieving a milestone or even someone’s birthday!
Celebrating employee achievements or special moments during a meeting, no matter how big or small, are a great way to set a positive tone, show recognition to your employees and make them feel appreciated in their roles. As a result, everyone feels more engaged and motivated.
7. Set Future Goals Together
Work meetings are usually recurring events such as a weekly team meeting or a monthly project review. So a good way to keep everyone engaged is to set goals and agenda for the next meeting together.
The opportunity of being able to influence decisions at the workplace can greatly boost team members’ morale. Not only does this make the meeting more productive but it also benefits the business. Employees feel more invested in the goals and targets that they set out themselves and are more motivated to achieve them.
8. Keep Changing Your Presentation Style
Nobody wants to follow through a PowerPoint presentation and a speaker reading it out for the entire meeting. You need to change your presentation style every 3-4 minutes to hold everyone’s attention and keep them on the same page.
A simple transition from one style such as lecturing to Q&A to group discussion mixes things up and attendees are more likely to stay focused this way.
The mid-day slump is arguably the worst part of the workday and becomes even more difficult to handle during a meeting. But you can try these simple ways to keep attendees fully engaged during your next meeting.
Amanda runs the booking team for IQ SmartCenter – A sleek and modern conference center in San Diego. Amanda has longstanding expertise in the wedding and event industry, and she enjoys blogging about the latest trends and industry topics.