“Better for a meeting to be too short than too long,” says Natasha Terk.

“Most of us spend half our work week in meetings, and those meetings are often a waste of time,” says meeting expert Natasha Terk.

At last month’s Independent Communicators’ Roundtable meeting, “How to Make Your Next Client Meeting the Best Ever,” Natasha shared best practices for improving the meetings you facilitate.

Wake Them Up With a Hook

Whether the meeting is virtual or in person, Natasha recommends finding a “hook” to wake your audience up and get them to pay attention—especially in virtual meetings.

“We know that 100 percent of your audience in a virtual meeting will be multitasking at some point. They are checking email, phone messages. They are texting to set up their next meeting. You need to jolt them a little during the first few minutes of the meeting, so they understand and appreciate what’s at stake.”

For example, she says, “Illustrate the dangers of the current state at the company or industry. Or highlight a competitive threat.”

When Your Meeting Starts to Slide Off Track: Establish a Parking Lot

What do you do when one individual goes on and on, veering off your agenda and timeline?

Natasha recommends establishing a “parking lot” concept. “Let them know that we’ve committed to a certain agenda timeline and ask if we can put that conversation in a parking lot for now while we get to other agenda items. Then steer the conversation back to the agenda,” Natasha says.

Meeting Tips at a Glance

  • Kick off the meeting with a dramatic hook that all participants can relate to
  • Make sure the meeting is connected to participants’ concerns
  • Invite all participants to contribute
  • Draw on their emotions (but don’t be overdramatic)
  • Make sure the meeting topic is inclusive and relatable
  • Keep it short

Join us at our next Independent Communicators’ Roundtable event, our Spring Luncheon March 21, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Sign up today. 

About Natasha

Natasha, owner and managing director of the communication consultancy Adcom Designs and Write It Well, a training business, facilitates webinars and workshops for multinational companies, such as McDonald’s, Visa and Bank of America.

Julie Knight is an award-winning, accredited business communicator. Her clients have included The Walt Disney Company, Starbucks, Cisco Systems, Genentech, McKesson Corporation and Hewlett-Packard, to name a few. Connect with Julie on LinkedIn or missionpossible.strikingly.com.