When it comes to meetings, the way you start can make or break the entire experience. Starting a meeting effectively sets the tone and determines how engaged your participants will be throughout its duration. So, what’s the secret to a successful meeting kickoff? It all boils down to understanding what your participants want to know at the beginning and using the I.E.E.I. framework to guide you.
The Two Key Questions for Starting a Meeting
At the onset of a meeting, participants generally have two burning questions:
- Why am I here?
- Why should I care?
Answering these questions right from the start can be a game-changer for keeping your participants engaged and ensuring a successful meeting.
The I.E.E.I. Framework: A Blueprint for Effective Meeting Openings
The I.E.E.I. framework is a powerful tool that can help you structure your meeting’s introduction for maximum impact. It stands for:
- Inform: Let participants know the purpose of the meeting and the expected outcome.
- Excite: Explain the benefits of the meeting and why it should matter to them.
- Empower: Describe the role and authority of participants.
- Involve: Engage participants through a thought-provoking question related to the meeting’s purpose.
Now, let’s delve into how you can apply this framework effectively.
Inform: Setting the Stage
Start by informing your participants of the meeting’s purpose and what you aim to achieve. Use clear and concise language to convey:
“The purpose of this meeting is [state the purpose]. When we’re done, we’ll have [list the expected outcomes].”
This information helps everyone get on the same page from the outset.
Excite: The Ignition Phase
This is perhaps the most underrated part of the I.E.E.I. framework but crucial for maintaining engagement. To excite your participants, answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Use phrases like “you” or “your” to make it personal:
“Today, you may have team members who lack the skills needed, forcing you to pick up the slack. This is your opportunity to shape a hiring process that ensures you get the right people, making your work easier.”
By focusing on the benefits for your participants, you’ll generate excitement and genuine interest.
Empower: Giving Participants a Voice
Empowering participants involves making them aware of their influence and role within the meeting. Use statements like:
- “You are hand-picked because of your expertise.”
- “The organization relies on your recommendations.”
Empowered participants are more likely to actively contribute and engage in meaningful discussions.
Involve: Early Engagement for Better Collaboration
Encourage early and consistent engagement by asking an open-ended question tied to the meeting’s purpose. Questions like these foster a collaborative atmosphere:
- “What are your thoughts on our current hiring process?”
- “How have you seen effective hiring processes work in other organizations?”
Involved participants are more likely to share their insights, leading to a richer discussion.
Effective Facilitation Techniques: A Recap
Starting a meeting effectively is just the beginning of successful facilitation. To ensure your meetings run smoothly, remember these nine key elements:
1. Start the meeting on time: Respect everyone’s time by punctuality.
2. Your opening words (IEEI): Use the I.E.E.I. framework for a compelling start.
3. Confirm the agenda: Ensure everyone’s on the same page.
4. Review the ground rules: Set expectations for respectful communication.
5. Review the parking lot: Address unresolved issues later.
6. Make introductions if needed: Help participants get acquainted.
7. Encourage participation: Foster open dialogue and active listening.
8. Stay on track: Keep discussions focused.
9. Summarize and follow up: Recap key points and ensure action items are addressed.
Going Deeper into I.E.E.I.
Understanding each part of the I.E.E.I. framework can enhance your meeting facilitation skills:
- Inform: Share the purpose and expected outcomes clearly.
- Excite: Highlight the personal benefits for participants.
- Empower: Make participants aware of their influence.
- Involve: Engage participants early and consistently.
Starting a meeting on the right foot may take practice, but by applying these tips and techniques, you can become a more effective facilitator. With a strong opening and skilled facilitation, your meetings will be more productive, engaging, and successful, leading to better outcomes for everyone involved.
Looking for more techniques for facilitating meetings?
Check out our course, Facilitating Masterful Meetings!