How To: Hold a Great Meeting

May 29, 2014


By Lyndsey Hall


If you’ve ever been in charge of holding a meeting you’ll know how difficult it can be to hold everyone’s attention from start to finish. With an audience ranging from Mandy in Marketing to Andy in Accounting and Ian in IT, it can be almost impossible to pick the right tone and method of delivery to keep everyone concentrating and limit any daydreaming, or worse, desk napping.

According to a recent article in Marie Claire, one in 8 people have nodded off during a meeting. So when you’re up against odds like that, how do you make sure you don’t lose your audience in the first 5 minutes? Here are a few tips:

  1. PowerPoint is dead.

Nobody likes PowerPoint presentations, and audiences usually use them as an excuse to drift off into a daydream for 45 minutes. If you don’t have to use one, don’t. You can still use prompts such as note cards, YouTube videos or physical hand-outs – 3D examples of what you are discussing are a great attention-grabber, but reading from your slides for an hour while your audience reads the screen faster than you can vocalise it is a definite no-no.

  1. Let’s Go Outside, as George Michael Says.

Just as we all loved it when our teachers took us outside for class on sunny days, your staff would love to get a breath of fresh air during their work day. It is a great booster for concentration, creativity, and it’s good for you, so why not take your next boardroom meeting in the park across the street, or the Peace Gardens

  1. A well-fed audience is a happy audience!

Nobody is paying attention to your presentation when its 12:05 and they are starving. They are thinking about what they’re going to have for lunch. Make it easier for them, and you, by organising a buffet, or even just nibbles and refreshments. When everyone has stopped crunching you’ll have their full attention (for at least 20 minutes).

  1. Make a connection

The reason you called a meeting wasn’t to smack your colleagues in the face with facts and figures, you could have done that in an email. You wanted to get them all in a room together, face to face, so that you could convince them that your idea is a good one. So do it. Don’t worry about the agenda, or who should take the minutes, just grab their attention with your fantastically well thought out (naturally) proposal and do whatever it takes to get them on board. Be captivating and make it relevant to them, and they won’t be able to say no.

  1. Short is sweet

Think about how you would describe your idea in 5 words. And then say that. Don’t drone on and on about the specifics or the details, that’s a good way to lose at least half of your audience straight away – the other half, the conscientious, details-oriented types, will love it; but the big-picture types don’t want to know why it will work, they just want to be told that it will. You can always email the details guys a long and thorough explanation afterwards!

Follow these tips and your next meeting will be a roaring success!

Do you have any tips of your own for giving great presentations? What’s the best and worst meeting you’ve ever sat in on? Let us know in the Comments!


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