Five Ways to Start a Meeting with Style
When you hear the words “meeting on Monday at 9”, most people groan and think, “God! Not another meeting.” So, what if there was a way to start your meetings in style, to get people engaged and make those meetings more productive. Well, today I am going to show you five ways in which you can open a meeting in style and get people thinking.
Obviously, if you are running or organizing the meeting, you are probably a bit nervous, especially if your meeting is run in English. To help you overcome your anxiety, I am going to explain to you the “why” and the “how”. This means you will understand why we should do it and also the language you will need to get these techniques working.
Tell Everyone "Clearly" WHY They Are There and Why It Is Important
Why this works
Linked to an effective agenda
People understand why they are investing the time, and how this meeting is linked to achieve the company’s goals.
No time wasting
This ensures that the meeting is hyper-focused on outcomes and sticks to the main objective of the meeting. Everyone knows and this creates a sense of clarity from the outset.
Includes everyone (no spectators)
By ensuring you include everyone and the reasons for them being there we can avoid inviting people to the meeting who don’t need to be there. By including this step, we are forcing ourselves to plan the meeting more effectively and only invite people that have a role.
How can we open?
The purpose of today's meeting is...
By the end of this meeting we will have...
Today we are going to cover... because...
Share A Surprising Fact (Related To The Purpose Of The Meeting)
Why this works:
Engages people instantly
People are always engaged by interesting or surprising facts, especially when they are related to a specific point of interest. Use them to get people listening from the outset.
Gets everyone in the know on what is happening within the department/company
Surprising facts may not be common knowledge, so they can be used to make people feel inclusive (insider information), they can also be used to get people thinking about a problem being faced or as a way to generate some creative ideas.
How to start:
Hey, did you know that...?
I'm not sure if you're all aware but...
Team, you may be surprised to learn that... which is why we are here today.
Start with a story (that links back to the main objective)
Why stories work
Again, instant engagement
Everyone loves a good story, and just like sharing a surprising fact, you can engage people from the beginning. Plus if you link to story back to the purpose of the meeting then the story will be even more powerful and memorable.
Makes people follow till the end
A well told story will hold the listeners attention, meaning that people will stay engaged and listening until the end.
Shows people why they are there and how it is related to the overall objectives of the company
By explaining the purpose of the meeting in story format, then we can show people in an engaging way why this meeting is important to the overall objectives of the company and how their role feeds into the big picture.
How to open with a story:
OK, before we start, I just wanted to share a story which I am sure you will all agree is relevant to why we are here today.
Can I kick things off with a quick story?
Welcome everyone, I hope you all have a copy of the agenda. I would like to start by explaining something that I believe you will all find interesting. Last week I was...
Tell people they won't be leaving without an action point
Why assigning action points works:
Everyone starts the meeting knowing they will leave with something to do
How many times have you been in a meeting which ends and you are not sure what the purpose was or what you should do next? Telling people they will leave with something to do creates purpose.
Everyone follows the meeting with anticipation, waiting for the assigned task
Engagement is powerful and keeping people waiting for something is a good way to ensure they follow the meeting.
People leave the meeting clear on what their next step is and there is the accountability factor from colleagues
Leaving a meeting with a sense of purpose is empowering, and it also makes you feel like the meeting you just attended was actually for a reason. Secondly, if everyone in the meeting knows what you have been assigned then you are accountable to the group.
How to open with action points:
Before we start, I just want to make it clear that everyone will have a "next step" assigned to them by the end of this meeting.
Hey, just so we are clear, you'll all leave this meeting knowing what is expected of you in the coming days.
To ensure this meeting has actionable outcomes, I will be assigning each of you a task.
Ask Everyone For The Most Positive Thing That Has Happened Since The Last Meeting
Why starting on a positive works:
Playful and a positive start
Gets people starting in a positive mood AND creates a productive space to collaborate.
Gives people an opportunity to talk about successes
People can share some wins with the team and get people reflecting on the good achievements instead of always dealing with problems and challenges.
Allows for a non-business focus (e.g. my father recovered from COVID) and helps connect employees to positive aspects of their personal life (relationship building)
This is pretty obvious, but very powerful. If people are free to share anything positive, whether it be business or personal, the team can share in the person’s success and congratulate them. This leads to stronger teams and better understanding.
How to start with a positive thing:
Hey everyone, this may seem a bit left field, but I want to go round the table and here one thing from each of you that you would classify as a success since the last time we met.
As we discussed earlier, let's start by hearing a positive thing from each of you... could be anything.
Hey team, I want to hear something positive from each of you before we start. Doesn't have to be work related, just something you are feeling good about.
AOBE is here to help you!
Even though most people hate to join ANOTHER meeting, you can make your meetings much better and more engaging by using some of the techniques mentioned in this episode.
Just as I have shown you with real world examples of expressions and vocabulary in this lesson, you can also learn many more on my course “How to confidently participate in meetings” online course.
So, if you are tired of boring meetings, then learn how to run a meeting that gets results!
This short online course will teach you how to confidently participate in meetings whether you are the chair or a participant. You will learn all my secrets for effectively preparing and making sure you get your desired outcomes.
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Thanks for joining me for another episode of The Art of Business English, I hope you have found these tips useful. Please comment below on the areas that you find the most difficult when participating in business meetings, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Till next week take care