How you start each and every meeting is extremely vital, whether it’s happening online or offline. If you want a meeting (or a webinar!) to be successful and bring results, you should start it with confidence, regardless of the reason for having the meeting. You should make it clear why you are having a meeting though!
To engage people and, to be the centre of attention (confidently), is not an easy task. We’ll give you that. Especially if you want to become The Master of Meetings. But don’t worry: we have listed the 7 best ways to start a meeting in a way that doesn’t drive people to instantly go scroll their Facebook feeds or find their split ends or cuticles more interesting than you talking.
1. Body language
As you might already know, you only have 7 seconds to make a strong first impression. This is not only in the case of meeting a new person, but also whilst standing in front of an audience (which is equally true when using video within your web meeting). To present yourself confidently, remember the basic body language techniques: good posture, chin up and eye contact. And most importantly: smile! You want to create a positive environment when you start a meeting and you can go a long way with a smile. How cheesy..
2. Acknowledge people’s presence
People want to be noticed! Especially if they were reluctant to come to a meeting (which is probably always). You should acknowledge the fact that the attendees have actually made the effort to join the meeting and you can show gratitude by simply saying: “Thank you all for joining this meeting”. Easy. You don’t need to point out each individual, but you can mention the different teams represented in the meeting. This will create a feel of being needed right from the start of the meeting. Whilst reassuring each attendee they have a reason to be there.
A guaranteed way of catching everyone’s attention is by starting a meeting with humor. If you warm up the room with a joke or a catchy slogan, you won’t seem too stiff, formal or awkward. If you can incorporate the joke with the theme of the meeting, the attendees will forever see you as The Master of Meetings. Here are some funny office and work related jokes we found online that you can use:
- Do you know what really bugs me? Discreetly placed microphones. (Great for online meetings)
- I asked the corporate wellness officer, “Can you teach me yoga?” He said, “How flexible are you?” I said, “I can’t make Tuesdays.”
- Nothing ruins a Friday more than an understanding that today is Tuesday.
- How do construction workers party? They raise the roof.
- The trouble with being punctual is that nobody’s there to appreciate it. (Great if Kevin once again arrived too early to the meeting)
- I have a lot of jokes about unemployed people but none of them work.
- The human brain is a wonderful thing. It starts working the moment you are born, and never stops until you stand up to speak in public. (Great for a webinar)
If you’re not comfortable with telling jokes or don’t happen to find any of the above suitable for the situation, you can always use memes or GIFs to bring humor to the start of the meeting. This is suitable especially if you have some concerns you want to point out but don’t want to have a negative start to the meeting. For example:
“Lately I’ve noticed that the productivity levels at the office look like this”
“This was me after I read the last marketing campaign performance report”
5. Important & positive updates
We advise you to state the most important issues and updates at the beginning of the meeting. This the point where everyone is still focused and their brains are actually receiving messages, rather than playing connect the dots in their heads. Pointing out positive matters also helps to steer the meeting towards more productive outcome. After the important and positive points are covered, you can move onto the more general matters.
6. Amazing facts
You can start a meeting with an amazing and unexpected fact that will interest the attendees but also allow you to focus everyone’s attention to a specific matter. For example:
“Did you know that vending machines kill 4 times as many people as sharks per year? As requested, we will get a vending machine in the lobby tomorrow. Be careful everyone.”
“Did you know that the average four year-old child asks over four hundred questions a day? That’s almost half of the amount you will be asking when the new data management software will be introduced. Oh hey, by the way, we will introduce a new data management software next week. Any questions?”
7. Visual data presentation
If you need to present some statistics or “boring” data to the attendees at the beginning of the meeting, why not use infographics! Infographics are especially useful when the data presented is complex or when you want to get to the point quickly. In fact, it is said that the human brain can process visuals much faster than text. Infographics are also a good way to highlight the most important points of the data. If you are doing an online meeting, with Drum meeting annotations you can easily point out the main aspects of the data with a laser pointer or with a pencil.
To become The Master of Meetings takes time and practise, but we assure that with our tips your journey will be a lot less rocky. How you start a meeting or a webinar is extremely crucial. You don’t want to see the attendees gazing out of the window or instantly getting their phones out when you start a meeting. You want all eyes on you. If the thought of being a centre of attention still frightens you, you can check out our tips on how to calm your nerves before running a meeting. If you feel like you’re ready to face the crowd, great: choose one of the tips above for each meeting and let us know which one worked the best!