We’ve all been there. We spend weeks (even longer) planning a business seminar or training meeting, only to look out at a sea of bored employees who are struggling to stay awake. It gets under the skin of every business owner and office manager.
After all, these business meetings take a lot of work to put together, and it defeats the purpose if everyone in the audience is nodding off. More importantly, these seminars and networking sessions aren’t cheap to plan and execute.
With booking the venue, hiring guest lecturers, and providing refreshments, every business meeting is a major investment of both time and money. So when your employees start to get restless (or worse, start to fall asleep) it’s more than simply frustrating – it’s downright wasteful.
But this scenario can be easily avoided, if you know what to do. Before you have your next important business event, consider the following essential tips to keeping your guests awake and engaged.
Keep It Interactive
Lectures and demonstrations are a crucial part of any business presentation. But nothing sedates an audience better than a darkened room and an endless slide show. If you want your employees to remain engaged, you need to engage with them.
Encourage your attendees to ask questions during the presentations, and not to wait until the end of the lecture. That being said, all of the responsibility for engagement doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of your guests.
Featured speakers should also make a point of reaching out to the audience directly, asking for comments and questioning attendees throughout the presentation. Once the members of the audience understand that they are likely to be called upon to voice an opinion or answer a question, you can be sure they are going to sit up straight and pay attention.
Team Building Through Physical Activity
Again, we are trying to avoid the trap of a darkened room and an endless slide show. Team building exercises help to teach employees how to work together while building morale among your staff. They also get people out of their chairs and moving, keeping them alert and getting the blood flowing.
For example, you might break the audience into groups and have each group gather in a circle. Using a medicine ball as a speaking device, have them toss it back and forth to get them talking and brainstorming about an important promotion or key business opportunity. As the exercise becomes more fast paced, you’ll find your employees become more engaged and ideas flow more freely.
Small Group Dynamics
Large business meetings can be intimidating for some employees, and they may feel uncomfortable speaking their minds or responding to questions. This doesn’t mean that they have nothing to offer to the discussion.
Often times, if you use break-out groups, you’ll find that your employees are much more comfortable speaking their minds and applying their skills and insight to the topic at hand.
These smaller group dynamics are a great way to break up long seminars and keep employees alert and engaged with the day’s proceedings and your plans and ambitions for the company. One tip to remember here – make sure there is a principal moderator moving among the groups to ensure that everyone is staying on task and focused on the topics they’ve been given.
Breaking Up the Monotony
A day crammed with power point presentations, lectures, and demonstrations can be wearing for even the most devoted employee. You need to give everyone a few opportunities throughout the day to recharge their batteries so they can come the next presentation alert and ready to engage.
The best way to do this to include some light entertainment in the day’s activities. It may be a game or two (which can actually double as team building exercises), a break for a catered lunch or dinner, or even a hired entertainer to amuse the troops. The key here is to provide a few entertaining distractions throughout the day to reinvigorate your guests so that they can approach the next speech or training session refreshed, re-energized, and ready for action.
Business meetings don’t have to be be boring affairs that leave your employees struggling to stay awake. With all that you’ve invested in your event, it is vital to keep your guests engaged and on point throughout the day. If you follow these simple tips, and look for ways to keep your guests active and engaged at all stages of your business event, you’ll find that your seminars and training sessions are much more rewarding, and your employees much more creative and productive.