Following a recent staff meeting, I sat around a table talking with several co-workers about how to get more engagement and participation during discussion items and project updates. One colleague asked: if we wouldn’t simply talk at an audience during a training session, then why are we talking at our co-workers during items for discussion?
It was a fair question. Perhaps anyone responsible for leading a discussion item or a project update should put together some sort of modified lesson plan – even if they have only been allocated 15 minutes during the meeting agenda. Following are two simple suggestions, based on adult learning principles and the core features of a lesson plan, that can make your next presentation during a staff or team meeting memorable and engaging:
- Clearly define what kind of reaction, participation or feedback you want (or need) from your co-workers (for example: do you want feedback on a project you’ve drafted, do you need help brainstorming a solution to a problem)
- Create a clear opportunity for your colleagues to offer the participation that you need (perhaps asking: “what does everyone else think?” works for your team, but many teams – especially when meeting via conference call – need something more intentional designed to get everyone engaged during a conversation. Intentional design ideas include breaking the team into small groups for a quick discussion – you can’t just sit silently in a small group; for teams meeting via web conference, using the white board or other writing tools can help dispersed teammates feel closer to the action)
The photo below is an example of a team member taking it upon himself to engage the rest of our team during a project status report. Instead of enabling us to daydream about other things while he presented, he asked everyone to stand up and surprised everyone with an interactive flipchart (!!!) to ensure the team hung on every word of his project update.
Status updates don’t need to be mind-numbingly boring. And if your team needs a little nudge to give you the feedback you need during your next team or staff meeting presentation, don’t assume that they’ll pay attention to you (let alone give you feedback) just because they’re present in the meeting and you expect them to pay attention or offer inout. Make sure you spend a few minutes coming up with a plan to design a presentation that offers an opportunity to your teammates to give you the input you need.
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