Make Collaborative Meetings Happen

July 7, 2015
By Michael Massari, Senior Vice President of National Meetings and Events at Caesars Entertainment

The substantial power of a productive meeting often goes unnoticed. Meetings provide executives with an opportunity to inspire and motivate employees by sharing in face-to-face interactions and dynamic discussions. They create an undeniable energy among people that gives rise to a great experience and drives an organization forward. The creativity, teamwork and connections built during an in-person conversation are irreplaceable.

Relationships built from face-to-face meetings cannot be replicated by any type of technology. They are critical platforms that serve to educate, train and grow employees and, when done right, foster collaboration where participants feel engaged and empowered.

In order to best utilize the relationships and business outcomes that can be created from a well-produced meeting, executives should consider the following when hosting a company meeting:

Preparation: Prior to sending a meeting request, craft an email in which you explain to employees the purpose and importance of the conversation. Employees will be more engaged with the topic if you provide them with adequate preparation materials, such as background information, potential discussion questions and the meeting’s presentation.

Co-Host: As an executive, it would be natural and easy for you to run an entire meeting on your own. Use meetings with employees as a chance to provide other members of your team with a speaking role. This will impart ownership to other employees and will help communicate the importance of their presence and the value that they bring to the table. Co-hosting also has the potential to expand the network of meeting attendees, encouraging those who don’t normally participate to join in the dialogue.

Engage: Find ways to activate your audience during your presentation. Rather than just asking for their participation in the meeting, elicit responses in a concrete manner. Real-time polls via mobile apps are a great way to do this and the answers provided can help shape the conversation and make the meeting more collaborative.

Visualize: Move away from the traditional PowerPoint deck. Tools like SlideDog and Prezi allow you to blend a PowerPoint deck, PDF, website, YouTube clips, images and movies together in a single presentation, making it more dynamic. Animations help to keep your audience’s attention and are a nice break from the monotony.

Follow-Up: A shared mission and goal can be lost when there is a lack of follow-up. Be sure you reach out to colleagues, not just via email but in-person, to find out if they have any questions, concerns or additional ideas. If this is a large meeting that you’re truly looking to glean insights from, try issuing a post-meeting survey to acquire genuine feedback from the group.

The importance of in-person meetings cannot be overstated. The ability to sit down one-on-one with colleagues provides for instant collaboration and real-time productivity. Personal connections created during these interactions add value to the bottom-line and bring a noticeable return on investment.