How To Run a Meeting While Keeping Your Audience’s Attention

What is worse than scheduling a meeting only to have participants tune out of the conversation? We’ve all had this happen, whether it be a virtual meeting or an in-person meeting. Our first instinct is to be frustrated with those who aren’t paying attention. But before you bang your head against the wall to get their attention, ask yourself if you have done everything you can to make your attendees want to be engaged.

In advance of the meeting:

  • Do you have a clear, defined objective for the meeting?
  • Can you reach your objective with a 30-minute meeting instead of an hour?
  • Are you building in opportunities for sharing of information, feedback or insight from your attendees rather than you doing all the talking?
  • Have you communicated the objectives of the meeting in advance to attendees?
  • Have you created an agenda and shared it in advance?
  • Does everyone attending have a role at the meeting and understand their role?

During the meeting:

  • Did you open the meeting by restating the objectives and desired outcomes as well as a promise to end on time?
  • Do you ensure that the conversation stays on agenda and that no one person (yourself included) monopolizes the meeting?
  • Do you for input from each person at the meeting so that they feel heard?
  • Are you concluding the meeting with a clear solution and next steps?

After the meeting:

  • Did you send out a short recap outlining the objectives for the meeting, key ideas shared by participants, the final outcome and next steps?
  • Did you thank everyone for taking the time to attend the meeting and for their input?
  • Are you taking the outcomes from the meeting and actually putting them into practice?

Taking the appropriate steps before, during and after a meeting can help use time effectively and keep meeting attendees engaged. Ask these questions as you prepare for your next team meeting and evaluate if you are creating an environment of engagement.