Eight Essential Tips to Hosting an Engaging Meeting

Have you ever been to one of those meetings which had you dosing off from the get-go? Of course you have! It normally starts with some kind of pre-meeting dread; you know the type of dread which normally stems from the idea of listening to Bob the Finance Director, dimly explaining profitability and yield. And then just when you think it’s over, he pulls out a black and white presentation with clip art images galore. Funnily enough, we’ve been to a few of these ourselves; in fact, enough to offer some stellar advice on the topic.

 

The secret to hosting a productive and insightful meeting is to concentrate your efforts on making it engaging. The more engagement and involvement required by delegates, the more both parties will get from the session. But how does one put together a highly engaging meeting? Using these eight simple tips:

 

Always plan rigorously

Like they say, ‘the art is in the planning’. Before even sending out an Outlook invite or booking the conference or meeting room, plan out exactly what you want to achieve in the meeting and begin to consider how to achieve this. In the long run, doing this will make the next eight tips significantly easier.

 

Create pre-meeting anticipation

To avoid pre-meeting dread (as discussed in the intro), pay very close attention to how you invite people and the words, images, and style in which you use to do this. Maybe create a small energetic video with highlights or little hints and tips. You could even ask people to produce a short activity to present at the beginning of the meeting.

 

Invite the right people

This sounds like a really odd tip to suggest, however don’t be tempted to invite everyman and his dog just because you think that may, at some point, have mentioned the project in passing. Limit the attendees to key stakeholders and you’ll ensure everyone attending the meeting has a genuine interest in the outcome.

 

Feed their brains

If the meeting is at a hotel or involves the delegates having to travel, ensure you arrange pre-meeting snacks and plenty of fresh coffee, tea and fruit. Maybe even go that little bit further with bacon sandwiches, pastries or maybe a pre-meeting cooked breakfast with a teaspoon of networking. Just remember not to go too heavy on the carbs, nobody wants to fall into a carb coma when they should be making important decisions.

 

An interesting start

Start the meeting with a bang. Be it some well researched stats which grab delegates’ attention or perhaps get them to do a team exercise which they can present to the rest of the group. The trick is to avoid anything too heavy first thing but at the same time, make it a hearty talking point which will enthral attendees.

 

Diversity in activities

The more varied the talking points and agenda, the more engaging the day will be. After a high energy intro, don’t do the obvious and try and get all the less interesting talking points over at the start. Scatter them throughout the day and mix it up. Try and get people out of their seats and talking to one another about the topics.

 

Keep it balanced

Sometimes there are certain characters which can over power others in a meeting, and as the chair it is your job to make sure everyone’s views are heard and recognised. By allowing everyone a voice throughout the meeting, it will prevent you from losing people who are less engaged. This also keeps them on their toes.

 

Post-meeting drinks

Once you’ve wrapped up the meeting, it’s always effective before dispersing back to your offices or sprinting to your cars, to regroup and reflect on the day. The idea of there being a post-meeting drink or gathering keeps people awake right until the end allowing you to get the most out of them before the end of the day.

 

And there you have it, eight nifty tips for chairing an engaging meeting. If you’re looking for one of the best conference venues in Oxford, why not take a look at our meeting and events page to see what one of Oxford’s top conference venues has to offer.

 

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