Daylong meetings needn’t be synonymous with dozing, unfocused, or irritable employees. By following these tips, you can help your staff stay alert, interested, and invested in making your daylong meeting a productive one:
- Publicize your purpose. When you announce your plan for a daylong meeting to staff, be sure to frame it in terms of a solid objective, such as: “We’re going to map our calendar of projects and deadlines for the coming year.” By clearly stating what you seek to accomplish through the meeting, you ensure that employees know what to be thinking about before going into the event.
- Set an agenda. Break out the tasks and action items for the day, listing the specific decisions that need to be reviewed or made, ordered in a logical fashion. Then plot these conversations against your meeting’s time frame (i.e. “Address first-quarter deadlines from 8-10 a.m.”), budgeting how much time in the day you’ll need to accomplish each individual goal. Structuring the day’s agenda and then sharing it with employees ensures that your daylong meeting isn’t daunting.
- Make it interactive. Once you’ve subdivided your meeting’s overall objective into several smaller goals, it’s time to ensure your employees’ involvement. There are multiple ways to do this: appointing one staffer per segment to lead that particular conversation; developing a short list of questions for each portion to pose to employees, and stimulate conversation. The key is to avoid droning lectures, and instead make sure your daylong meeting is peppered with spirited conversation and the sharing of ideas from everyone in attendance.
- Stay on topic. One of the greatest concerns when staffers hear the words “daylong meeting” is the fear of a lengthy, meandering conversation that doesn’t get anything done. One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is by enlisting the “topic police.” For each segment of your daylong meeting, appoint one member of your staff as the “topic police.” This shouldn’t be the point person designated to lead the talk on that particular topic, but instead someone else who can redirect the conversation if it begins to stray.
- Choose the right spot. It may seem elementary, but be sure to pick the right spot to hold your daylong meeting. This means enough comfortable seating for everyone in attendance, a table or work area large enough for everyone to put their necessary paperwork on, and a bright, well-lit room (if there are visible windows to let natural daylight in, all the better).
- Come prepared. Make sure you come equipped with the tools and devices needed to do everything on your agenda. Got a presentation that includes slides? Be sure your meeting venue has a projector, along with someone who knows how to work it. Have materials that need to be handed out? Be sure the right number of copies have been made in advance. In addition, arm your staff with the tools they’ll need — a nice touch in a daylong meeting is a “party favor” including a pen, a pad of paper, and anything else staffers might require.
- Cover basic human needs. Hunger and thirst are distracting feelings; supply your staff with food and drink at the appropriate times throughout your meeting to promote focus and ensure everyone is primed to contribute their best. If your meeting begins around breakfast and continues through the lunch hour, look into having meals brought in. This means coffee and at least a light snack to kick things off, then lunch options with plenty of drinks during the midday meal. Be sure to ask staff in advance about any food needs, so you’re sure to have things like vegetarian options available to those who require them.