Talent Tips: Make Your People Matter in Meetings

Having exceptional meetings starts with valuing your people and determining what you want them to come away with.

By Roy Saunderson, Chief Learning Officer, Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute

There is a classic cliché definition that meetings are where minutes are kept and hours are lost. However, someone I know recently challenged that perspective by suggesting the idea that every meeting should be a revelatory experience.

If anything, the majority of meetings tend to reveal the harsh reality that little thought went into trying to make them a meaningful experience. They are often just obligatory time fillers—the cyclical meetings scheduled in our calendars for the standard one-hour block, with someone dictating the agenda, of little value and even less accomplished.

But what if we could make our meetings more engaging? Imagine showing your employees you value them and their time through changing the way you conduct your meetings. Try these six ways to enliven your meetings and show your people they matter.

  1. How can we start the meeting off right? Start each meeting by valuing the people in the room through acknowledging the talents and abilities they bring to the table. If participants have completed actions and achieved outcomes, then thank those attendees for what they’ve done first and have others express positive feedback, too. Beginning a meeting with positive energy literally affects the cognitive functioning and emotional well-being of those in the room. This will lead to further positive results.
  2. What do we want to achieve together from this meeting? Lay out the vision and purpose for each meeting independent of any formal agenda. If you could achieve only one thing at the end of everyone’s time together, what would that be? Is it to make a decision, brainstorm a solution, or craft a plan of action? Whatever the objective is, hold that as the standard of measure to determine how successfully you accomplished what you set out to do. Make your meetings valuable.
  3. Who do we need in this meeting to get the job done? Different meetings have different needs and do not always need the same players each time. By establishing the purpose and agenda and distributing it ahead of time, you can ask core attendees to decide if they need to be present to make a contribution or not. Furthermore, ask everyone to identify if there is anyone missing from the proposed attendee list who would be a powerful asset and resource in saving time and making a difference to the objective. Tap into the strengths of people in the organization.
  4. How are we going to get this done in the amount of time we have? Using a facilitative style, draw out of people ideas on how they think you could best achieve the meeting goal. Take just five to 10 minutes at most and allow everyone’s input and consensus. By livening up the meeting process through participation, you are promoting involvement and respecting the ideas of people in the room. Determine realistically how many meetings may be required to achieve the end goal. Take bite-sized chunks out of a project and achieve small goals first.
  5. What time and logistical limits do we need to be mindful of? There will always be time and logistical constraints to any project. By acknowledging and sharing these barriers at the beginning, you can allow blue-sky creative solutions for dealing with them. It is good to get people excited about a project, and if you make sure not to overwhelm them, they willingly will volunteer to put in more time and even suggest additional meetings when needed. Set personal limits so everyone can support each other and keep one another accountable.
  6. What is the best way to get the most out of each meeting? Make every meeting a positive experience from the minute your people enter the room. Don’t just sit down and wait for people to arrive. Stand up and be ready to give a hearty and warm greeting that best mirrors your personality. Connect with these colleagues first and they’ll connect with the purpose of your meeting. Tell them you don’t want to waste their time and energy and ask for suggestions on how to make each meeting a great one. In essence, start each meeting knowing how it is going to end.

By putting your people first versus the meeting agenda, you will show colleagues they matter most, and then they will feel good about making a difference, even in a meeting.

Roy Saunderson is author of “GIVING the Real Recognition Way” and Chief Learning Officer of Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute, a consulting and training firm specializing in helping companies “get recognition right.” Its focus is on showing leaders how to give real recognition to create positive relationships, better workplaces, and real results. For more information, contact RoySaunderson@Rideau.com or visit http://www.Rideau.com.


Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.