How to Transform Passive Meeting Attendees into Active Participants

How to Transform Passive Meeting Attendees into Active Participants

Short of blowing an air horn or yelling, “What?? Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce got engaged?!”, it’s tough to force people to pay attention in a meeting. Especially when everybody’s schedules are filled with unnecessary and often unproductive meetings, you can’t blame them for zoning out or thinking about what they’re going to order for lunch — instead of, you know, actually contributing.

As Insider reported from a study by Doodle, more than 44% of executives have seen colleagues watch videos, snap selfies, or even doze off in meetings.

The good news is that — air horns and pop culture news aside — there are respectful and effective ways to help your meeting attendees be part of the conversation and, dare we say, even enjoy showing up. That’s where Step #7 of our guide on How to Plan a Meeting People Actually Want to Attend comes in: Transform a passive audience into active attendees.

Here’s how:

  • Check in with each attendee at the start. Make a point to verbally check in with each attendee and even ask what their goals or intentions are for the meeting.
  • Make your meeting interactive. Excessive talking and even visual aids like slideshows can get monotonous. Keep people interested and involved with interactive elements like polls, games, and brainstorming activities. 
  • Assign responsibilities and tasks. Make sure each attendee has a clear purpose for the meeting so they know why they’re there and what they’re expected to contribute.
  • Don’t forget about remote participants. For Zoom attendees, it can be easy to just click “Join,” give a wave, and then tune out. So remember to loop in these remote participants by asking them specific questions and getting their point of view.
  • Stop scheduling unnecessary meetings! If people’s calendars aren’t flooded with soul-sucking, time-wasting meetings, they can save their energy and attention for the ones that really matter.

As Justin Hale and Joseph Grenny wrote for Harvard Business Review: “[Give] people tasks that they can actively engage in so there is nowhere to hide. Define a problem that can be solved quickly, assign people to groups of two or three (max). Give them a medium with which to communicate with one another (video conference, Slack channel, messaging platform, audio breakouts). If you’re on a virtual meeting platform that allows for breakout groups, use them liberally. Give them a very limited time frame to take on a highly structured and brief task.”

Proggio CEO Yaniv Shor also recommends cutting down on unnecessary meetings by using more efficient reporting tools: “Eliminate meetings held exclusively for status reporting. Instead, choose one channel — perhaps email, a specific Slack thread or even a shared document — and require task owners to submit status reports by a specific deadline each week (or whatever frequency works best for your project or organization). This consolidates all the information into one platform and simplifies prep for the project manager.”

To recap, here’s our quick, actionable tip for Step #7: Keep attendees engaged in your meetings with interactive elements, check-ins, and clearly outlined roles and responsibilities.

Ready to streamline your project management meetings? Book a demo with Proggio.

Need to catch up with the rest of our guide? Check out the first 6 steps here:

  1. Decide if you really need the meeting.
  2. Plot your talking points and goals.
  3. Invite the right people to attend.
  4. Prepare your data and real-time reports.
  5. Have a plan for staying on topic.
  6. Anticipate disruptors at every turn.

Steps 8-10 coming soon!

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