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5 Tips for communicating effectively in meetings

5 Tips for communicating effectively in meetings

Effective meetings require a clear agenda, visual aids, structured interaction like ’round robin’, adherence to set time limits, and use of feedback and hand signals for clarity and engagement.

Stick to the Planned Topics as Much as Possible

Having a meeting stick to your planned topics is essential to keep focused and ensure that every important point is covered within the allocated timeframe. As researched by Microsoft, meetings are 34% less effective outside of your initial agenda . Therefore, to make the best of your business meetings, distribute a detailed agenda always in advance. Be sure to include allotted times for each part to prevent overrunning. For example, a strategic plan for one hour-hold meeting can include 15 minutes to review previous action items, 30 minutes for new business strategies and 15 minutes for assigning new tasks, and action items. Furthermore, try to include more visual aids in your presentation to aid understanding. Research shows that people remember things better with 65% effectiveness by using visuals compared to 5% without . A relatable example could be if you want to display your quarterly sales growth, instead of using percentage text alone, use a bar graph, and display them side by side.

Make Sure Everyone Feels Comfortable Speaking

Do not forget to always create an environment where everyone is comfortable to speak. One technique is called “round robin,” which allows everyone to talk and share their ideas when holding a meeting. This way, no one is left behind, and everyone gets to discuss their thoughts fairly. A relatable experience of this can be when you are doing a brainstorming session, you could ask your team to share only one or two new ideas that are not included yet.

Avoid Distractions

In this modern digital era, distractions such as emails, phone calls, app notifications, and unrelated topics of conversation could reduce your meeting efficiency. Therefore, a good old simple request, like having everyone to turn off their device sound and avoid unrelated tabs during your virtual meetings can have a drastic effect of up to 30% more focus according to office space studies . Further, to ensure everyone adheres to this practice, make an example of yourself and show people that you are switching off your devices too.

Recap At the End of the Meeting

Finally, an important part of the meeting is the summary at the end. Make sure to summarize and write down everything that has been discussed and relay for each part who among the attendees is responsible. For example, “Anna will finalize the client presentation by Wednesday at 3 PM, and John will provide the final sales report by Friday.” This way, everyone can hear and understand what is expected of them. Furthermore, this is crucial down the line to see whether every task has been carried out and also act as a part of the next meeting’s review.

Enhance Communication with the Best Technology

Properly using the appropriate technology can vastly improve the efficiency of communication during meetings. In a survey by Forbes, using advanced communication tools as improved productivity by 49%. Choose software that works best for you, integrates well with your existing infrastructure and supports real-time sharing and collaboration. For example, popular videoconferencing tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams can also be used to share one’s screen or co-edit a document live with all participants of the meeting.

Select Tools that Can Be Used by Everyone

A tool must be selected based on how easy to learn and use it is. For example, for basic instant messaging and group conferencing needs, Slack is known to have a low learning curve. In case a tool that is new to all participants is selected and needs to be used, have training sessions and provide at least a document to guide their use. An additional session right before a meeting to show new attendees how to use some features makes sense and is respectful towards their time.

Communication Requires Connectivity

A stable, fast internet connection is a core part of contemporary digital communication. According to a study by Deloitte, connectivity issues during virtual meetings may lead to up to 30% decreased productivity . Ensure that the meeting location is equipped with a strong signal and advise people to connect using an Ethernet cable. In case the connection is not reliable, have a contingency plan in mind. Audio-only options or offline collaborative documents can be used during times of extremely poor connection. Just make sure to inform everyone in advance.

Use Interactive Features

Many modern communication tools include features that can be used to increase the participation and engagement level. Live polls, Q&A, and reactions of various forms in the form of emojis can make meetings less one-sided and more interactive. For example, a live poll can be conducted during a team meeting to decide what their next project should be. Such a question is relatively simple, but useful since it ensures that all members of the team participate and shows immediate results.

Recording Makes Later Notes Unnecessary

Recording a meeting is a useful feature since participants who might be otherwise tempted to take their own notes may avoid inadvertently missing important information. Meeting recordings in popular platforms such as WebEx are easy and self-explanatory to use, and a user can view them at any time as long as the source is known. Notify all participants that the recording is taking place since it is part of office policy and the right way to conduct business.

Pay Close Attention to Your Body Language

Summary

Body language plays a vital role in the process of effective communication, especially at the meetings where impressions and authority mean everything. There is evidence that and eye contact, gestures, and posture alone can multiply the audience perception of the speaker’s credibility and engagement. Specifically, the studies have shown that nonverbal courage accounts for 55% of how credible and engaged the audience was perceiving the speaker.

Use Eye Contact to Create Openness

Arguably one of the most efficient tools of nonverbal communication, eye contact, can really increase your connection with the members of your audience. It helps establish some trust as the people feel that you recognize them. However, it may not always be appropriate even if it is very comfortable. Therefore, do not stare at the person for more than five to ten seconds. Also, try to even out looking at each of the group members. When you make some specific point, take a look at its members.

Use Positive Gestures

That refer to positive gestures that aim at welcoming new ideas and attitudes. For instance, those are gestures of approval, like nodding and smiling. They imply the good understanding of an idea and of the logic that underlies it . They also send a signal that an idea may be openly discussed. As well as nodding and smiling, you may want to use your hands, touching them definitely.

Be Aware of Posture

Posture is something that also tells a lot, specifically of one’s attitude and engagement. You should sit up straight with your shoulders pressed back . On the contrary, leaning back conveys the feeling of disinterest and being unengaged . If some important receives a decision is being discussed that also requires your approval, make sure you do it right.

Be Aware of Nervous Habits

Some of them are dude, others are not. But do not tap a pencil or jiggle your leg or twist a ring. For example, try to pay your attention to those mirror feet or stand, and clap yourself. We do not even notice that sometimes they look most improper.

Mirror the Audience Body

It is in close or close parallel positions. For example, someone themself or lean back.

Ask Questions to Bring Others Into the Conversation

When it comes to questions during a meeting, it is not only about obtaining the required information. Questions can be a powerful tool to improve engagement, learn more together, and ensure that each participant feels significant. Fifty-seven percent of collaborative solutions occur during meetings with questions. Try focusing your inquiries on several main goals to achieve the most satisfactory outcomes. Below are some categories of questions that you might find useful to be utilized during any meeting.

Participation:

Not all team members can be equally talkative, so attention should be directed to the most quiet ones. Provide the most appropriate form of the inquiry to boost their confidence, for example, “Alex, could you provide us with your point of view on the matter related to the recent experience with our customers.” It will not only introduce other participants to a new perspective but will also help evaluate the usefulness of a previously silent employee.

Clarifying:

Misunderstandings often reduce the effectiveness of the measures proposed. However, these can be prevented by using a few clarifying questions to confirm that all the participants understand the suggested ideas or other types of information . For example, after a long discussion on a complex project update, consider asking, “What will we have to do in response to this report? We definitely need to agree on that.”

Inclusive:

Questions can be a valuable tool to promote the principle of democracy at a meeting. Encourage and strive for group decisions on suggestions and proposals by starting questions with, “Viewing this matter superficially, one can think that… Do any of you have a different estimation or intend to provide a broader selection of prima facie analysis?” Such approaches can both double the number of options and improve decision-making.

Challenge:

If the inquiry is “how,” probably the question is not complicated enough. Provocative issues can stimulate thinking and help all the team members find a solution. For example, “Supposing that instead of three months of work, which we have issued in a report, they will be given only one month – would such a variant of the matter be acceptable for us?”

Reflective:

In the end, prepare a few questions to sum up the meeting . They will help participants memorize and go home. For example, ask, “What did we conclude today?” “How do we recognize the problem that should be solved first concerning the issues raised?” This method can double-check the acquisition of information and data by the collective.

Keep Any Unnecessary Distractions to a Minimum

Distractions in a meeting can be minimized as a key to focus and efficiency. An average professional is estimated to spend 30 hours and 59 minutes in unproductive meetings every month due to distractions, delays, and absent goals . By creating a distraction-free environment, maximum engagement is reached, and fewer seconds are wasted during the discussion.

No-Device Policy

The implementation of the no-device policy during critical discussions and any other types of meeting may be successful in distraction elimination. All meeting participants should put their mobile phones on silent or turn them off and keep their laptops closed if not using it to provide visual presentation. For instance, although modern devices are convenient tools to take notes, they often serve as mere distractions in a coherent discussion. Therefore, during a strategy meeting or any other type of brainstorming gathering, the request of acrylic display stand manufacturers to provide pen and paper for all participants and take no digital notes may be beneficial to make everyone keep their hands and eyes on the clients’ portfolio under review.

Right Environment

As a meeting room and its surroundings may also be the sources of distraction, it is often recommended to choose the correct environment for minimization. A room for a professional discussion should be isolated from other noises and should not allow the voices of others outside to be heard. In addition, the event space should be clean and free of any disturbances in the form of inappropriate visual content that can be noticed by the eyes of the participants. For longer or more official conversation, it may be beneficial to use a meeting room where everyone knows that the participants may not be disturbed, having a special sign of ‘Do not disturb’ at the door.

Breaks

For gatherings that last over one hour, it is helpful to teach the participants how to concentrate with the help of short breaks conducted every hour. During these five minutes, a person can wash up, check up their emails, drink some water, or use the bathroom, but most importantly –, these procedures help stay in the productive mood over the time and avoid wearisome-all-day-metings that have no sense to a person . These five minutes do not constitute high working productivity but can be the solution to meeting over waning attention.

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