In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing, technology-driven workplace, many people face the prospect of being replaced by a machine that can do their job faster and without error. But there is one thing that will remain the same no matter how many advances in technology we achieve. That thing is the importance of a live meeting.
There are many tools which, through the use of technology, can create engagement outside of a live meeting. One such tool is the online conference. These tools can be very worth-while and engaging. I have participated in an online conference and would even recommend it as an aid to an organization’s communication strategy. However, no tool should replace a live meeting.
One of the reasons that a live meeting is such an important form of communication is that there’s an emotional impact that comes with a live meeting and cannot be replaced by any other form of communication. The energy that comes from a group of people together, in a room, collaborating is infectious. Also important is the fact that during a live meeting, people are engaged and focused, whether it is for a few hours or a few days, on the topic or purpose of the meeting. Live meetings are also the best way to avoid the lack of productivity that can result from conference calls where participants will do any number of other tasks while “listening” in on the meeting. Meetings can accomplish much more in much less time if participants are engaged in something that is physically taking place in front of them.
To make a live meeting more successful, there are a few things I would recommend. Be sure that your meeting has an aspect of active participation. Your meeting should not be just a string of presentations, one after the other, but it should be at least fifty percent interactive. Live meetings should also be relevant to those in attendance. Be sure to spend enough time thinking about your participants and what’s in it for them. Consider the fact that not everyone wants to attend every meeting. Identify what is important to those people who you want to attend. An active, engaged audience comes from having an audience with a vested interest in the meeting’s agenda.
When presentations are necessary during a live meeting – and they often are – encourage participants at the meeting to participate in those presentations by either answering questions or adding input. When conducting breakout sessions for training purposes, these need to be well thought out. Breakout sessions should always be handled by professionals because, often times, facilitation is the reason that breakout sessions fail. The breakout session will not be successful if the presenter does not take it seriously. In addition, if a presenter is ill-prepared or has prepared improperly, the session will be a waste of time. Be sure to choose a facilitator who will add to, not take away from, the training session.
Perhaps the most important aspect of a successful live meeting is what happens once the meeting is over. It is important to have a central message for your meeting and also to carry that message over in business outside of the meeting. By communicating your message after the meeting is over, your participants will continue to be engaged in the purpose of the meeting and the experience of your live meeting will be remembers and, hopefully, repeated in the future.
Do you prefer live meetings to conference calls or video conferences? Why or why not? As the facilitator of a meeting, would you feel more successful if your audience was more engaged?