If you don't want the people at your next meeting sitting around the table daydreaming, try these techniques to liven up the atmosphere and make the agenda more interactive:

  • Give each participant a lead role in an agenda item — No one should be allowed to sit back and observe for the entire meeting.

  • Avoid sleep-inducing meals before a meeting — No cheesecake or creamy pastas, and definitely no alcohol.

  • Try stand-up meetings — You'll be amazed at how much time it will save.

  • Schedule frequent breaks — There should be no more than 1½ to two hours of sitting.

  • Call on people who are silent — Don't wait for them to raise their hands.

  • Break into subgroups — Then ask each to report back to the group as a whole.

  • Ask attendees to communicate concisely — Tell them: “Our time is tight. Is it reasonable to ask you to limit your comments to about two minutes each?”

  • Ask speakers to avoid lecturing — If their presentations are not interactive, tell them you're not interested.

Source: Eli Mina, MSc, PRP (eli@elimina.com)