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Meetings are a necessary evil; they take time away from tasks but are essential for keeping employees on the same page. If your company requires meetings, as a manager, it's your responsibility to engage and motivate your staff so that they look forward to such sessions. How you open a meeting sets the tone that may determine how employees feel about being there.
Kick off the meeting by asking each employee to talk about something good, positive or inspiring that happened to them in the previous week; ideally, these should be work-related occurrences, and it's appropriate to remind employees to keep their stories brief. Encourage every employee to participate and reinforce that their anecdotes are important, no matter how seemingly insignificant. The more inspiring stories your employees hear, the more positive they'll feel about being at the meeting.
Oftentimes, company leadership communicates goals but neglects to follow up with staff to discuss whether the goals were met. After a while, not knowing if their efforts have paid off can lead to disinterest or apathy. To keep employees engaged in the company's progress, open meetings with announcements about major accomplishments. For example, if your team worked around the clock to get a job done during the previous week, let them know the status of the project and the client's feedback, especially if the feedback's positive.
Chose a upbeat song to kick off the meeting. The song should be applicable to your team or a current task. Ideally, pick a well-known song so that those who feel comfortable can dance, snap their fingers or sing along. Consider warming up your staff by organizing them into teams to play a game; for example, play a quick game of light-hearted, work-related trivia or a word-association game. Keep such games short and uncomplicated, because the goal is to get your staff to relax rather than to get caught up in the complexities of the activity.
Avoid opening meetings with prolonged personal chit chat and banter sessions. Some employees may enjoy catching up with each other, but prolonged personal chatting can alienate employees who don't have friends at the meeting. If you serve food, limit your offerings to healthy snacks rather than sugary and fatty foods known to lessen concentration. If your company's meetings take place in the morning, for example, open the meeting by offering employees fruit, granola bars or yogurt to boost their energy and concentration levels.
Maya Black has been covering business, food, travel, cultural topics and decorating since 1992. She has bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in cultural studies from University of Texas, a culinary arts certificate and a real estate license. Her articles appear in magazines such as Virginia Living and Albemarle.