06/13/15 By Jennifer Brown

Engage AudienceWhen preparing for a meeting, you probably spend a lot of time ensuring that you are presenting the right content in an organized way. However, equally important is the ability to engage your audience. The last thing you want is for your message to be lost because your attendees are zoning out. Here are a few strategies for you to consider when planning your next meeting:

Assign pre-meeting responsibility
Give attendees an assignment or something to prepare for the meeting. This will give the meeting a new significance to each person.

Overcome nervousness
When you’re stressed or nervous, you may speak too quickly. Remember to slow down, enunciate your words, and make eye contact with your meeting attendees. Don’t worry about it being perfect.

Captivate people at the beginning
Sharing a personal story can immediately connect you to your audience. By showing them you are human, it sets a relaxed tone and people feel they can relate to you. Attention spans can be very short, so you want to engage people from the beginning.  A few ideas you could consider include:
•    Before the meeting, ask each attendee to think of a solution to the problem and be prepared to share their idea.
•    Start the meeting by having each person share a recent success since the last team meeting.
•    Prior to the meeting, ask a trivia question related to the meeting topic and then be prepared to share the answer at the start of the meeting.

Encourage interaction
Sometimes it is best to lead a dialog among team members versus a lecture. Allow attendees to ask questions and provide input.  Just make sure one person does not dominate the discussion.

Meetings are a necessary part of the business world. Just as you prepare your agenda, remember to prepare your strategy for keeping your audience interested and engaged so they walk away inspired and motivated to work toward the challenges and goals you’ve set forth.

photo credit Ambro via Free Digital Photos