Getting people to focus on the meeting

Today I’m writing on how to start a meeting and help people focus. Tomorrow I will go deeper with this and write more on setting a good goal and outputs for the meeting:

The start of the meeting should help people focus on this meeting and not everything else happening at the moment. We need to make sure that we have a common goal for the meeting and that we are clear on what output we want from the meeting. We also should help the participants get into a collaborative mood so that we are here to solve the problem together and not here to find scapegoats or end up in endless discussions about responsibilities.

• Focus
• Goal
• Outputs
• Collaboration

One of the most powerful things you could do to help people relax and focus on this meeting is to go through all the practicalities. You can for example say
• “We will end at 12 which means we will start wrapping up the discussions and focusing on clarifying actions around 11:45.”
• “Is it ok for everyone to end at 12 or does anyone have to leave earlier?”
• “We will have a coffee break around 11 but if you need one earlier just say so.”
• “The toilets are to the right when you exit the room.” (you only need to say this if people have not been here before)

If you do this, people will be more present, and it removes some of the worries. You can also ask people to turn off their cell phones, or if you want to be a bit less direct about it just say: “Does anyone have any urgent calls or other things they need to take care of during this meeting or can it wait until after?”

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