How to Drive Meeting Engagement (on the phone, on the web, and in person)
As consultants, we’re constantly connected to many different stakeholders. Whether we’re on the phone, online, or face-to-face with our constituents, it’s a consultant’s responsibility to productively engage with our clients often and through a variety of channels.
The following tips will help consultants lead effective and engaging meetings both in-person and virtually:
1.) Gauge and Engage Your Audience
While hosting your meeting, it’s imperative to gauge your audience’s participation levels while also creating an environment that supports engagement from everyone involved. Building in pauses to the discussion is a good idea to ensure your audience is following along. As the meeting coordinator, be strategic in maintaining engagement during the meeting. Ask for participation from those on the call by posing questions, and display an interest when others speak up and offer their opinion or ask a question.
Tip: Remember that silence isn’t always a good thing if you’re meeting virtually, as this could indicate your participants are having a hard time following or they may be distracted. Encourage participation in your meetings by posing a poll question for your stakeholders to answer on the spot.
2.) Be a Visual Presenter
When you’re the participant in meetings for most of the workday, it’s hard to stay focused by the time your 5 pm call rolls around. For your audience to be engaged throughout the meeting, be interactive whenever possible. If you’re using a platform such as Webex or Skype, share your screen. This tactic engages your audience and provides them with something to focus on as the meeting progresses. As your audience follows along, this helps reinforce the message you’re delivering and keeps the meeting productive. If you are hosting a meeting in person, utilize white boards or large sticky notes as you capture the meeting notes. Moving around the room helps the meeting feel less static and boring, and these tools can be helpful to your visual learners in the audience.
Tip: Send out notes immediately following your meeting. This ensures the meeting content is not lost among any of the participants.
3.) Set Expectations Early and Often
Setting expectations is a key ingredient for an engaging meeting. At the beginning of your meeting, walk through the agenda and let people know how much time is allotted per agenda topic. If everyone in the meeting is on the same page at the start, then everyone is better prepared to contribute, ask questions, and be engaged. Make sure only key stakeholders are invited to the meeting to keep the conversation on-track.
Tip: It’s a best practice to send out the agenda for your meeting as soon as possible so your attendees can adequately prepare. Is this a working meeting? An informational meeting? If there is pre-work or thought required before the meeting starts, make sure those responsible are aware early on!
Engaging meetings are more fruitful and productive, and so it’s imperative as consultants to generate an engaged meeting culture for our teams. The above tips will help create dynamic meeting agendas, provide for more lively conversations, and produce valuable outcomes for you and your stakeholders.