The first few minutes of your team meeting set the pace and tone for the rest of the session. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and your team is looking to you for leadership, guidance, and support. What you say and how you say it creates a climate that contributes to the success or failure of the team.
Here are a few tips to kick off your team meeting:
- Countdown. “We’re going to start in two minutes.” Then, start on time.
- Capture Their Attention with a smart move to the front of the room or head of the table that signals the meeting is going to start.
- Begin with Confidence. Here are some ways to make them lean into the meeting:
- Kick it off with a team icebreaker – try a team activity to get everyone engaged
- Start with an anecdote — share a personal experience that would be understood by all. Make it relevant and genuine.
- Use an imaginative visual — weekend comic strips or editorial pages. Don’t forget to check your copyright laws and, if necessary, ask permission to use the artist’s work.
- Ask a rhetorical question to stimulate thinking on the topic.
- Give a unique demonstration or example.
- Discuss the Purpose of the meeting, provide background information, and explain the team’s value to the organization. Review the team charter or mission, if there is one.
- Introduce Yourself and your role on the team. Allow others to introduce themselves and describe their experience, expectations and/or reservations.
- Agree on the Approach, Agenda, and Activities. Show how each individual expectation, meeting purpose, and agenda correlate. Check for understanding and agreement.
- Clarify Expectations for team involvement: e.g. attend meetings, take notes, do homework, read the material, conduct research.
- Explain the Evaluation System. Let the team know if they will have an opportunity to critique the team’s work and its performance as well as how the overall team will be evaluated.
- Agree on Ground Rules, logistics, and other administrivia. Some typical examples might include agreements on start and stop times, breaks, how decisions will be made, and who will take notes.
To ensure success, keep your comments upbeat and focused. Discuss each point and move on to the next item on the agenda. Don’t allow your comments to drag. Show the team that they are in good hands and that you are well-prepared. They will then be able to put aside some of their concerns and focus on the team’s work.