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9 Creative Ways To Enliven the Start of Your Next Meeting

Having a hard time keeping your meeting attendees engaged? Try out these tactics to start your next meeting on the right foot.

The Hugo Team
The Hugo Team
The team transforming meeting productivity
9 Creative Ways To Enliven the Start of Your Next Meeting

No matter what situation you find yourself in, one thing is for certain — first impressions make a huge statement. 

Whether you just met a new coworker, or sat down to complete an interview, you always want to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. 

Meetings are no different. In fact, it is even more important to curate a great first impression during meetings, because the first few minutes of conversation will set the tone for the remainder of the discussion. If your team members become quickly uninterested after the first two minutes, you will only struggle to grasp their attention again. 

In this article, we’ll be sharing:

Let’s get started.

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Why is the start of a meeting so important? 

From the get-go, meetings in the workplace usually don’t have a positive reputation. Most responses towards meetings seem to stem from the question ‘Why?’. A great start to a meeting will ensure that you can answer this question and make everyone's time worthwhile. By practicing new ways to open discussions, you’ll be able to set the ground rules and run through your meeting agenda with no distractions. 

If you’ve been finding yourself struggling to facilitate more productive meetings, there’s a high chance that your team members need to feel connected to you. There are several ways to achieve better retention during work meetings, but all of them tie back to the following core values:

  • Positive company culture
  • Empowerment in the workplace
  • Excitement to fulfill job responsibilities
  • Personal connection amongst team members

To put it frankly, nobody wants to work at a company where they don’t feel appreciated. By aligning your opening statement with one or more of these values, you will be well on your way to facilitating more genuine, engaging conversations with your team. 

So, what is a good way to start a meeting? To answer this question, here are 9 creative ways to start meetings successfully.

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9 ideas to use when starting your next meeting

1. Celebrate wins

Encouraging your employees to uplift one another in the office helps to foster a more welcoming and positive environment. What easier way is there to do this than to celebrate the wins of the company? This way, people will start to associate meetings with promising news rather than disappointment and boredom.

As mentioned before, the course of a meeting depends heavily on how you start it. By opening with optimism rather than negativity, it is more likely that you'll create a space where more individuals are comfortable to ask questions, provide constructive feedback, and most importantly, speak up for themselves. 

2. Facilitate introductions if needed

Start your meeting with introductions of all of your attendees. Not only does this help make sure that everyone knows each other, but this allows people to gain a deeper understanding of the roles that each individual plays in the project being discussed. 

Make sure to encourage meeting participants to conduct introductions themselves, in order to promote engagement and inclusivity. By doing this, any questions and topics related to specific individuals on the team can be more easily navigated.

While team member introductions don’t need to happen at the start of every meeting, it is always a good idea to facilitate additional introductions when there are new hires, promotions, or even just a switch in roles. By doing so, your team members won’t ever be confused about who to turn to, and you can avoid the dreaded awkward silence. 

3. Surprise your team with a fun fact or statistic

One of the most interesting ways to begin your meeting is with a fun fact or surprising statistic. Statistics are valuable especially because they are facts and not just your own opinion. 

Try to look for interesting facts or statistics relevant to the project being discussed in your meeting. Oftentimes, this can actually be very helpful and eye-opening for listeners. For instance, a discussion surrounding a new marketing strategy could start with the following statistic: More than 53% of marketers state that webinars are “the top-of-the-funnel format that generates the most high-quality leads.”

4. Share a memorable quote

Similar to sharing a fun fact or statistic, a memorable quote can be valuable at the start of any meeting. Reflect on the things you’ve heard around the office, at home, or even online. A quote that directly relates to the content of the meeting can be insightful, but be open to quotes that motivate, encourage, or empower your team members.

After reading the quote aloud, make sure to give your meeting attendees some time to chat about what the quote means to them before transitioning into the real topic. Reflecting on other people’s ideas is a great way to facilitate genuine discussion. By using this tactic, you’ll kick off the meeting with engagement from all sides of the office, rather than waiting on someone to speak first. 

5. Start with meditation or stretching

Recently, mental health and wellness are two practices that have become more significant in the workplace. Reserving the first few minutes of your meeting to destress and move the body can help to re-energize the group as a whole. Not to mention, decompressing this way can actually benefit the discussion as team members feel valued for the time they are putting into their work.  

By leading these wellness routines, not only are your employees going to feel valuable, but they will recognize the fact that their health is a bigger priority to you than their job responsibilities. 

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6. State the goal of the meeting

Another great way to begin your meeting is to state the meeting purpose. 

You might frequently receive questions like ‘Why couldn’t this information be sent by email?’ or ‘Why must we have this meeting right now?’. In fact, a recent survey found that 67% of employees complain because spending too much time sitting in meetings prevents them from being productive with work. Context is always needed to have your team members as engaged as possible. 

By stating the meeting purpose as you open the discussion, attendees don’t have to wonder how the meeting is relevant to them. Instead, they know exactly what the meeting will entail, as well as what goals need to be achieved by the end of it.

7. Tell a personal anecdote

Ethos, logos, and pathos. Of all three of these rhetorical appeals, the most powerful is pathos, the appeal to an audience’s emotions. One of the most inviting examples of pathos is the usage of a personal anecdote. 

Telling a story can intimately connect you with your audience’s personal morals and values. Starting off your meeting with a story helps to grasp people’s attention. No matter what topic you choose to discuss, using an anecdote makes the meeting instantly more meaningful. 

While you can always share a story that is relevant to your meeting, you can also discuss real-life experiences that relate to your team members’ values, interests, and hobbies. This way, they can feel included in the conversation and can even add their own thoughts to the discussion. Here are a few examples of different types of stories to tell at your next meeting: 

  • A success story: Share a story about a successfully closed deal, or a team member who went above and beyond recently. 
  • A story about a highly anticipated event: What recent holidays, movie screenings, or sports events occurred? Use these topics to garner attention and transition easily into your meeting topic. 
  • An anecdote related to participants’ interests: If you and your team members have similar interests, discuss any new developments to start your meeting on the right foot. 

8. Explain the benefits of the meeting

As humans, we like to participate in situations where we will benefit from. Similarly, most people who attend work meetings want to know what’s in it for them in the long run. While job responsibilities can be quite daunting sometimes, creating excitement helps push people to care. 

To do this successfully, elaborate on the benefits to the people involved. Think about questions like ‘Will they be learning a new skill relevant to their position?’ or ‘Are there clients that could provide them with more opportunities?’. 

Ultimately, people want to gain something from a meeting to make it worth their time. By finding answers to these questions, you'll be more likely to have a productive meeting.

9. Empower your team members

In the workplace, it’s not unusual to feel like you haven’t been an impactful asset to your team. Some days can be better than others, depending on what work gets accomplished.

That’s why it’s crucial to recognize that your team might be walking into your meeting feeling inadequate and down. Take this opportunity to remind your team of why they were chosen to work at the company in the first place. You believed in their potential, so make sure to vocalize it!

When people know and understand the authority and power they hold to offer real results, they become motivated to work more efficiently. By empowering your team members, we’re sure you’ll be one step closer to having a more engaging conversation with them. 

Give yourself time

While it’s important to be prepared as a meeting facilitator, the best way to learn how to start your meetings is to practice connecting with your team members. Becoming a leader in engaging conversations takes rounds of trial and error, so give yourself time to master these interactions.

Once you are open to learning the passions, interests, or hobbies of your department members, genuine excitement will follow. To do this, make sure you are running frequent one-on-one meetings with each member of your department. In addition, spend time away from work-related topics to create a personal connection with those of service to you.  

How to start a meeting is dependent on your company culture and of course, the topic at hand. Find ways to align your opening strategy with the topic of the discussion. By following these steps, you’ll spend less time commanding the room, and more time listening to your attendees’ ideas.

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