How to make weekly meetings more engaging

What’s one of the main problems at workplaces according to employees?

It might not come as a big surprise, but the answer is meetings.

Why? Meetings feel boring and unproductive. Why listen to fruitless discussions if you can check your email and get tangible work done?

To fix this problem, you need to engage meeting participants. There’s no quick fix. But with the engaging meeting ideas we discuss in this article, your meetings will soon turn out to be more productive and effective.

First, we take a look at ideas you can use to engage meeting participants. Then, we go through specific things you can implement in your meetings to make them more engaging. Ready to jump right in? Read on to learn how you can hold engaging weekly meetings!


How do you engage meeting participants?

The first step is to figure out how to engage your meeting participants. Here, you’ll need to do some research and figure out what works best for your team. Let’s dive right in!


Personalize your meetings

If there’s one thing you need to do to make your weekly meetings more engaging, it’s personalizing them.

You see, personalization is a powerful engagement booster.

In terms of meetings, some people want more discussion, whereas others value a faster pace. So, what works for one team doesn’t necessarily work for another. That’s why you need to skip all musts and create a meeting that works for your team.

To figure out how you can personalize your meetings, ask team members to fill in a survey or chat with them one on one. Ask how they want meetings to look like. Then, discuss your findings with the whole team to find consensus on your meeting structure.

Next up:

Getting all meeting participants to speak up.


Ask questions to get everyone to participate

You know how it can be a real pain to get everyone to participate during a meeting?

There are different reasons as to why you don’t get others to speak up. Feeling disengaged is one of them.

So how do you get people to feel engaged enough to participate in the meeting?


Ask them direct questions.

You can do this in different ways. Ask a round of questions where everyone gives an answer. Or ask individual questions, for example based on expertise.

If you make others feel like their expertise and point of view is appreciated, you’re a lot closer to getting them to speak up. Do this a few times and you start getting engaged meeting participants every week.

Now that you know how to get people to speak up, it’s time to figure out how to get them to give their best during meetings.


Dig deeper to challenge others

One of the main reasons people feel bored during meetings is that they’re not being challenged.

Tony Robbins, life coach and author, recommends that you dig deeper during meetings. Don’t settle for a half-hearted answer if you think people aren’t giving their best. If you challenge meeting participants, they’ll feel a lot more engaged.

But how can you effectively challenge them?

Follow up with questions if you think there’s more to someone’s answer.

So at your next meeting, follow up with questions if you think a meeting participant has more to give. Ask what they mean specifically, to broaden their argument or to see something from a different point of view.


Motivate team members to attend meetings

There’s one surefire way you can ensure that team members stay engaged throughout your weekly meetings. Namely, by motivating them to participate.

Most of the time, people dread weekly meetings because they’re a time suck. Or they’re indifferent; weekly meetings are just a necessary evil to keep the team updated on what everyone’s up to.

So how do you create weekly meetings that meeting participants want to attend?

First, make them feel like they gain something from meetings. You see, one of the best motivators is to make people feel like they’re making progress.

This could be done by keeping intermediary goals for your team. During your weekly meetings, you update them on the team’s progress.

Or, make team meetings a place where you share things that held you back and get feedback from others on what you can do to overcome those roadblocks. Another powerful method is to give praise to each other and keep up a positive team spirit.

And, don’t forget to end the meeting on a high note. What this means is that you want meeting participants to feel as (or more) energized when they walk out from the meeting room as when they stepped inside.

There are plenty of ways to energize meeting participants. Why not discuss the purpose of your organization? After all, 73% of employees want to work for purpose-driven companies. If you leave room for a weekly briefing on how their work aligns with their purpose, you’re set to get engaged meeting participants at your next meeting.

Not sure how to start a discussion on your purpose? Simply use a short, interesting speech, like a TED talk, or a quote that aligns with your purpose to get the discussion flowing.

Now that we know how to engage meeting participants, let’s look at how we can create engaging meetings.


What does an engaging meeting look like?

The next step is to start implementing best practices during your meetings. You can use these engaging meeting ideas to catch meeting participant’s attention right away.


Use lots of visuals to optimize your meeting for the human brain

Our brains are hardwired to respond to visuals. For example, information coupled with an image makes us remember 65% of that information. Compare this to 10% if information is given as text without any visuals.

So to engage meeting participants, use visuals. That could be images, photos, cartoons, videos, graphs or gifs. Of course, don’t overwhelm people with images. But use them once in a while.

For example, use them in the middle of a presentation. Or when you talk about a subject that can be hard to grasp. Use visuals to paint a picture or a mood, to visualize a goal or to illustrate a system or sequence, such as a customer journey or sales process.

Got it? Now, let’s discuss why you should take breaks during meetings…


Take breaks to make better decisions

As humans, we can focus for about 60 minutes before we need a break. If you want to keep meeting participants engaged, you need to give them mental breaks.

To ensure that your meetings are productive, they should be as short as possible. But if you, for some reason, decide to have longer meetings, make sure meeting participants get to rest for 15 minutes every hour before continuing the meeting.

And for shorter meetings, do this: between every action item on your agenda, keep a few minutes of silence. During this time, everyone gets a chance to reboot their brains by sitting in silence, walking around in the room or whatever else that might help them re-focus.

And similarly, before you discuss any decisions, let people take in the information and think about it for a few minutes before you ask them to decide. That way, meeting participants get a chance to think about the pros and cons and you get more informed decisions.


Use visualization to help meeting participants perform better

Visualization is a powerful mental tool that you can use during your meetings.

In short, visualization has helped countless world-class performers become the best in their fields. It’s a mental practice that builds your confidence and enhances motivation, which helps you achieve your goals.

How do you do it then in a meeting setting? Simple: establish a goal with the other meeting participants (like a goal for a project or your yearly goal). Imagine yourself in that moment; you’ve just achieved your goal. Try to be as detailed as possible. Where are you? What are you feeling? Who is there?  

Create this mental image together with your team- after all, it’s everyone’s goal. Decide on what the mental landscape looks like. Then, make visualizing it during your weekly meetings a habit.

Not only does this engage meeting participants in the moment, it also helps you create a stronger and more confident team. Win-win? You bet!


Conclusion: Weekly meetings can be engaging!

Great work- you now have 7 engaging meeting ideas to use at your weekly meetings.

Start right away by implementing just one thing you’ve learned so far. For example, start by assessing how you can ask more questions during weekly meetings, which meeting participants usually keep quiet (and need more engagement), and how you can challenge others during meetings. Or, start by using more images or by taking breaks during meetings.

When you have that first thing working for you, continue optimizing your meetings and asking your co-workers for feedback.

In the end, they’ll thank you for improving your weekly meetings.

Want to learn more about creating meetings that are fun and productive? Check out our articles on how to make boring meetings fun and how to hack your weekly meetings.