It's not difficult to imagine the typical Monday morning meeting. Employees settle into their comfortable chairs in a room that's entirely too warm and by the second PowerPoint slide eyes are glazing over and heads are bobbing.
As an employer, you realize that your employees need proper instruction about new work policies and training. It's hard enough to keep your employees' attention in a small room, but it's a completely new beast when you're conducting large-scale web conferencing to reach employees and outside offices that cannot be there in person. Below are five tips to keep your employees from dozing off during an important meeting.
Practically no one likes to sit through a meeting first thing in the morning. Monday mornings are especially bad. Not only is it detrimental to load information on in the morning, but also after lunch. The post-lunch food coma can make your employees even more tired than they'd be in the morning hours. Instead, schedule meetings on Tuesdays in the late afternoon, around 3 p.m.
All too often, meetings start with the standard "Is everyone ready?" which is followed by groans of tired approval or complete silence. Then the meeting is sluggish as people join in late and the presenter must cover what they missed. Before you start the meeting with an icebreaker, it's important that you request attendees to join the meeting at least 5 minutes early. You can take that time to welcome every new participant or room of participants and ask them a quick question about the weather where they are, sports or general water-cooler talk.
Once everyone feels welcome, they will be more apt to participate. If your web conference allows for webcam use, have each room take 20 seconds to introduce themselves and tell the rest of the rooms something random about themselves. You don't necessarily need to do an introductory activity. Attendees generally want meetings to end as soon as possible, so don't do anything that goes on a long tangent. For a great icebreaker, use a recent sports analogy or pop culture reference and relate that to the theme of the meeting.
Have an Outline
This one is simple. Very briefly near the start of the meeting, let everyone know what will be covered, how much time is allowed for Q&A and when the meeting will end. People are more attentive if they have a clear expectation of when the meeting will end, instead of thinking, "How much longer is this going to be?" During the meeting, it's important to have a defined beginning, middle and end. At the beginning of the meeting let the participants know what you want to accomplish by the end.
Keep Them Engaged
Many employees prefer not to take notes during a meeting, but having them take notes will keep them engaged and help them remember the meeting better. Call on people for answers throughout the meeting but do it sparingly; this will put everyone at attention, knowing they may be called on. Lastly, let participants know that they have a voice. Get their consensus on decisions and make it clear they have a hand in decision-making.
In this case, minor distractions are a good thing. If you notice the attentiveness and participation is low, throw in a quick five-minute break so people can stretch their legs and get the blood flowing. Also, YouTube has a wealth of humorous short videos that you can easily play to give participants a mental break during a web conference. Make sure videos aren't too off-topic and they will spice up the meeting and get a few smiles.
There is never a guarantee that everyone will participate or even pay attention, but that is why it's important to keep your meeting fresh and fast-paced.