Meetings are at best seen as a necessary evil, and at worst as a time waster and productivity killer. The reason is that most meetings are very one-sided. The solution? Make meetings more collaborative.
Aristotle famously said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” His philosophy of synergy assumes that the interaction of multiple elements in a system produces an effect greater than the sum of their individual pieces. Smart guy.
Bringing this synergistic philosophy to meetings can have groundbreaking results—creating the ultimate experience for participants. When participants collaborate with each other, they walk away richer in knowledge and understanding than if they had the experience alone. Great meeting and event planners know collaboration is key.
Here are some tips to make meetings more collaborative:
- Have a goal and come prepared. Effective and collaborative meetings are only possible with sufficient preparation. Is there any information and data that the participants should prepare for the meeting? Does the meeting need visualization? Prepare all necessary documents, information and visualizations beforehand. Additionally, every meeting needs a clear goal. Having an objective brings structure into the meeting and helps participants focus on the important things, instead of drifting off topic. Having a common goal also creates a sense of shared success when you reach the desired outcome at the end of the meeting.
- Take some time to break the ice. To warm things up, start your meetings with an icebreaker. It's a great way to learn more about each other and get everyone feeling comfortable before jumping into the agenda. Plus, it works as a way of testing audio before getting to the crux of your meeting if you're connecting virtually.
- Choose the right topics. Think from your audience’s point of view. What will they find interesting? What will help them prove the value of their industry? Their position? Find a way to make your content connect on a deeper level. Take it a step further and encourage attendees to ask questions throughout the meeting. This gives you a chance to collect questions as you go and decide whether to answer them live or wait until the end.
- Encourage group brainstorming. Instead of the typical Q&A format, encourage a group brainstorm. Pose a challenge to the group, and act as a facilitator as one person’s answer is used as a jumping off point for discussion, possibilities and outcomes.
- Incorporate introvert-friendly strategies. When friends get together, it feels natural to fall into a conversational rhythm, with the talkers doing most of the talking, while the more quiet observers sit back and absorb. It’s important as facilitator to make your meeting a fair playing ground for all types of people, especially the introverts in the room. By utilizing methods such as timed discussions, anonymous voting, choosing the right time for the meeting, and open ended answering exercises, you can effectively encourage introvert meeting participation.
- Send a follow up after the meeting. Remind those who participated the main points of the meeting and the direction post meeting. This both increases the effectiveness of the meeting and reinforces the importance of connecting with one another. You can also gather feedback on your meeting. Each participant could spend a few seconds, upon the completion of the session, to provide anonymous feedback. Participants could also use a simple agree/disagree scale on how informative, necessary, prepared, well-facilitated and actionable the meeting was. Participants could also be prompted to make specific recommendations to the organizer (e.g., consider reducing the duration or the recurrence of the meeting).
Whether you’re ready to start meeting in person again, or exploring virtual and hybrid routes for your next meeting, it’s important to remember that even in the face of a changing business environment, demonstrating event ROI to leaders and stakeholders is possible—and it’s vital to the future of your meeting or event.
Whether your meeting is virtual, face to face or a combination, you can measure engagement against your objectives. To learn more, download our white paper, Measuring the Success of Your Virtual Event: 4 Considerations Not to Neglect.