‘Pre-Meeting Engagement’: Why You Should Engage Your Audience Before the Meeting Starts
Why is pre-meeting engagement so important?
Once your meeting has passed the ‘Do we really need to have a meeting?’ test, you need to think about the key aim of your meeting and how to best engage your delegates. And here’s the trick: engage them before they even walk through the door, because we all know that engaged employees or delegates are worth far more than unengaged ones!
When I am advising businesses on audience engagement I often use a polling and Q&A technology such as OpenMeet, in order to contact employees prior to the meeting and obtain their thoughts, views and questions. Having this pre-meeting engagement information before the meeting begins puts you in a powerful position to make sure the content and structure of the meeting is tailored to your colleagues/delegates. It also means that your audience already feels invested, because you have sought their opinions.
Trust me, when running a meeting it looks impressive to be able to say that the content has come from the group!
However, it is not all about technology. There are some other very simple rules you can follow to help make your meeting more effective. They are not rocket science, which is why I am surprised at how few meetings actually follow them!
1. Start your meetings on time
Meeting scheduled for 10:15? Well here’s an idea – make sure you start at 10:15. Starting meetings late wastes everyone’s time and sets a precedent of missing deadlines. Obviously, there needs to be some flexibility, but delaying your meetings should be the exception, not the rule. Do not fall into this time-wasting trap.
2. Don’t just read the slides
There is nothing wrong with using slides to reinforce your content during meetings, but too many presenters do little more than read them aloud. Your employees can read the content themselves in far less time. Use your slides for their intended purpose: highlighting key points.
3. Make an agenda… and stick to it
Why did you schedule a meeting? Far too many meetings are scheduled with no clear purpose. Meetings are better when you make a plan, stick to it and end it. Remember, no one ever complained that a meeting was too short.
4. Don’t let one voice dominate
Every business seems to have some employees with an inflated opinion of themselves. If you give them the chance, these people will take over your meeting. The reason we have meetings is to discuss topics as a group. Unless the loudmouth is your boss, limit their speaking time so everyone else has a chance to speak.
If your boss is the problem, then sourcing topics and questions from the group beforehand, and if necessary anonymously, can help to keep them on schedule.
Making use of pre-meeting engagement techniques and technologies such as OpenMeet can help everyone be more productive. When your meetings start late and go too long, your employees are stuck wasting time. The job of a manager is to help everyone work to their maximum potential. Engaging employees in company meetings by contacting them beforehand is a simple way of making these discussions more effective, and will make a big difference in your organisation’s efficiency.