How to Keep Your Team’s Attention During Meetings

Posted by Kristin Arnold on November 9, 2007

Want your teams to stay focused? Capture and post key information on the wall – on flipchart paper, whiteboard or the blackboard. Your team members will stay focused and on track as well as remember and act on the information well after the meeting.

Some kinds of information you might post include:

Meeting Purpose – the mission, goal or objective of the meeting

Agenda – the chronological sequence of events or list of items to be discussed in the meeting. Include who will lead the discussion and the timeframes.

Ground Rules – agreed on team norms that guide the effective functioning of the team (e.g. honor time limits, don’t interrupt…)

Team Map – this could be a timeline, schedule, flow of events, project plan or process-map.

Parking Lot – make post-it notes available to your team members to “park” items that need to be discussed or done in the future or a comment to the group without taking up valuable airtime.

Action Plans – all teams should have an action plan chart where tasks and deadlines are noted and assigned.

Capture information while the team is talking to ensure understanding and clarity around what has been said. For instance, if an issue was broken down into four parts, capture those four parts on an overhead transparency (more than fifteen people) or a flipchart (less than twenty people) or on a blackboard (small classroom). This serves as a reminder of what has already been said and agreed upon.

A couple of recording tips:

  • Write in large capital letters.
  • Capture key words.
  • Check with team members to see if you have captured the idea correctly.
  • Abbreviate where possible.
  • Alternate between two colors with each new point.
  • Use dark colors to record ideas. Highlight with pastels, yellow, red.
  • Emphasize with circles, clouds, boxes, underlines, arrows, pictures.
  • Stand to the side when not writing.
  • Post on the wall with masking tape or low-tack tape.
  • If you miss a point or don’t understand, check.
  • Ask for help if you aren’t sure how to spell a word.

Summarize your meeting by looking and commenting on all the work posted on the walls! Focus on the Action Plan chart and ensure understanding and agreement on the tasks, deadlines, and person responsible. Roll up the Action Plan chart inside out (so the print is on the outside). Unroll it (and the chart will hang nicely toward the wall rather than roll outwards) and post it on the wall at the next session as a reminder of the commitments made.

KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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