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Many of you hold regular meetings either with your staff or certainly with your management team. And energythere is probably an annual multi-day strategic planning retreat on the calendar as well.

How many times have you been in a meeting like this or reflected on it afterwards and not felt good about the energy in the room? People were not as engaged as you had hoped. I expect that you wondered how you could change this. At least I hope so.

Please know that your people do not enjoy sitting for extended periods of time and listening to you or anyone else do a data dump, providing updates on the company and/or directives as to what improvements need to be made.

As I facilitate the all-day monthly meeting of my CEO and key executive peer groups I remember something one of my mentors said to me, “You are the manager of energy in your meetings”. If you have this top of mind in any meeting you hold you will find more success and satisfaction.

Okay, what are some of the things you can do differently? Let me share a few and if you want more ideas please reach out to me. I’m happy to share what works.

First, let me tell you the intention I have for my practice as a meeting facilitator. It is to connect everyone in the room as human beings. These are groups of leaders whose membership stays pretty much the same month to month just like your teams. I feel if everyone knows each other as a human and not as their position in the company then a mutual trust develops. Mutual trust results in transparency.

I start every meeting with some sort of energizer exercise. A simple one is to have everyone check in. I use a form that asks them to rate their life in three areas: PERSONAL, HEALTH & BUSINESS on a scale of 1-10, with “10” being outstanding. Then they have 3-4 minutes to verbally share with the group. You will note that two of the three have to do with their life outside of work. Again, getting to know each other as a human being. You will be surprised how many have something in common.

Another exercise is to have them visualize the room they are in the United States. Ask them to go stand in the state where they grew up. Now go around the room and have them tell where they are specifically and a memory from their childhood or when they were in high school or what they did during their summers. The questions are unlimited but only one question only.

At a recent meeting I handed out a packet of colored pens and one 3X5 sticky note pad to each member. On the wall I taped a sheet from my flip chart for each person with his or her name on it. My instructions were to jot down an idea that came up for them during the meeting and stick it to their “idea chart”. And I asked them also to use the sticky notes to record suggestions, encouragements, ideas for their fellow members and stick them to their individual charts. By the end of the day there were all sorts of different colors represented on the sheets in the room. Not only did this create a lot of energy as we took mini breaks to place the stickies but some got up during the meeting to do it as ideas came to them.

A good way to know how your meeting went is to do a Plus/Delta at the end of the day. What did everyone like about today’s meeting? What didn’t you like and we should do differently? And/or ask what was one of your takeaways from today’s meeting. Have everyone share. Everyone listens differently and not only will you learn what was important to them about the meeting but the other members in the room will understand what was important to each other.

I encourage you to be the manager of energy during your next meeting and commit to doing at least one energizer exercise. Remember, when your employees are connected as human beings a new trust develops and this is the basis for developing a high performing team.