Leaders and team members want to be productive. Engaging team members during meetings create shorter discussions and better decisions. Productivity will naturally increase!
Ironically, the #1 challenge leaders face is engaging team members and keeping meetings productive. And as we all know, today there is the additional challenge of conducting remote meetings.
Consider, There Is a Better Way
Stop Focusing on PowerPoint presentations. Recently, Jeff Bezos banned PowerPoint at Amazon. They found meetings are now shorter and smarter…while costing nothing to implement! (Inc. 2020)
The presenter provides a written, readable, and stand-alone hard-copy document (1 to 3 pages). This requires the presenter to think through and communicate with greater precision.
Team members read, together and in silence, at the beginning of each meeting. This encourages leaders and team members to get on the same page faster and engage in more meaningful conversations.
By replacing PowerPoint with briefing documents, Bezos effectively increased company-wide management productivity by at least 25 percent.
But Wait! Before You Implement!
Understand Reading Levels
Before you jump in and hope to achieve the same dramatic results, remember people read and comprehend at different rates of speed.
According to a study of literacy rates by Wylie Communications, 34% of Americans read between a 4th– and 5th-grade level. 37% read between a 6th– and 8th-grade level. Savvy presenters focus on communicating at the lower grade levels. Yet, writing at a 4th-grade level can be difficult. That requires eliminating “big words” and “jargon” while simplifying numeric data and charts.
Also, leaders must manage the discussion process since team members can become difficult when others read too slow, ask too many questions, or misinterpret the data.
Develop Clear Communication Strategies
Communicating information on point and in simple terms requires practice. When writing, focus on your audience, include simple graphs and other documented data.
Use a readability indicator (Google for sites) to keep your ideas simple and on point. Some sites provide the grade level for the document. (The readability indicator for this article is 8th grade.) Keep in mind, your audience’s reading level will be lower than you think. (Center for Plain Language)
You may believe distributing information before the meeting can be helpful. It’s not. Team members can’t or won’t take the time to read it…and will fail to remember content and/or pretend to understand the data. This can further disengage the team.
Manage the #1 Saboteur
The problem of multi-tasking is still a major deterrent for productive meetings. It’s why some companies ban electronics during meetings!
Yet, the distractions of working remotely and poorly managed meetings continue to make it difficult to keep leaders and team members focused.
To keep people’s attention during my workshops, I use worksheets with key points listed and provide blank spaces to fill in data. This approach provides a structure for note-taking. It allows team members to absorb more information while keeping them engaged and focused on the topic. While some may resent this approach, it’s usually because they don’t want to stay present during the conversation.
Provide Training to Improve Communication Skills
Due to greater reliance on video conferencing, online chats, and phone calls, leaders and team members must step up and improve their communication skills.
- Listen with the intention of learning and ask questions to clarify. Non-verbal communication includes physical and auditory cues. Since 80% of communication is non-verbal, if you don’t develop the skills you will find it difficult to truly discern what they mean.
- When speaking, start with the point you want to make.
- Keep your ideas on-point and brief since attention spans are short. Avoid talking just to talk.
- Use simple and easy to understand explanations and graphs.
- Ensure everyone is being responsible for staying present during all conversations.
- It’s important you and your team participate in various training opportunities to improve speaking, listening, and debate skills!
©Jeannette Seibly 2020
Jeannette Seibly is an award-winning executive coach and keynote speaker. For more than 27 years, she has been an expert in guiding leaders to excel in business and beyond. This includes conducting engaging and productive meetings! Contact Jeannette for a confidential conversation. Don’t forget to listen to On the Air with Jeannette Seibly: It’s Your Time for Success on Anchor.FM or YouTube.com.
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