Captivating Meetings: Proven strategies for keeping attendees engaged
The Owl and The Beetle: Thursday Memo
In my career, I have attended hundreds of in-person and remote meetings. Despite the different formats, I have consistently found it challenging to keep attendees engaged.
People can be distracted during meetings for a variety of reasons. These can include being bored, feeling overwhelmed, not understanding the topic, being unprepared, and having too many other things on their mind.
I was once asked by my manager to leave my phone and laptop outside the meeting room. I attended remote meetings where attendees had to keep their cameras on to ensure everyone was actively engaged.
Both these pathetic requests were ineffective attempts to keep participants engaged. Not only were people still distracted, but they were also very frustrated by the paternalistic requests they had to accommodate.
When it came to my turn to run meetings, first as a team lead, then as a director, I committed myself to avoiding the mistakes I witnessed. I also wanted to find ways to make my meetings highly effective.
This essay summarizes a decade of iterations in keeping people involved during meetings, workshops, and presentations. Both in person and remotely.
I explore the following:
🔝 How I make my meetings a top priority for the attendees.
📄 The importance of a meeting agenda.
➡️ Outcomes > Notes.
🧘 How I make people forget about anything else as soon as they enter the room.
🟢🟡🔴 The color-coded check-in practice.
💬 The context-switch ritual.
… and more.
Are you ready? Let’s get going!
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