According to Harvard Business Review, 15 percent of an organization’s collective time is spent in meetings. This percentage has increased year-over-year since 2008, meaning many organizations are now devoting even more time and energy to meetings than in the past.
Staff meetings can be invaluable for disseminating important information across a company and encouraging collaboration. But these sessions must be genuinely impactful to achieve such goals. Otherwise, organizations risk meetings becoming a distraction from other work or even a source of frustration for employees.
Boosting information retention during staff meetings is key to making them count. You want everyone to leave the room having digested and understood the key points. Only then can employees incorporate these insights into their daily workflows—something that is especially important for training and compliance topics.
Consider these tips for maximizing participants’ retention of information during your next work meeting.
Apply Information to Real Life
The quickest way to overwhelm employees is by tossing out a stream of terms, facts and figures without rooting them in any sort of applicable context. The information is important, yes. But it’s more important to make sure participants know how to put what they’re learning into action.
As one CEO advises for Entrepreneur, “Challenge staff not simply on rote information, but on their ability to apply it in scenario-based challenges that reflect the real-life context they’ll be up against.“
Let’s say you’re holding a meeting to train your sales team ahead of a new product launch. Putting together a presentation deck listing features and specifications is a start. But rote memorization is not the best way to bring this product to life. Simulating questions real buyers will ask is a more dynamic strategy to help employees master this information. This Q&A session will help your sales team prepare for pitch meetings and view the products from the customers’ point of view. Thus, the most vital information is more likely to stick.
Gamify the Learning Process
Employees watching a presentation or sitting in on a meeting typically hear important information only once. Considering many meetings last for 30 minutes to an hour or more, it’s easy to see how important communications slip through the cracks using passive learning methods. The solution? Promote active learning with a trivia-based staff meeting game meant to reinforce central concepts for participants.
Start by asking someone in the room to create questions based on the content of the meeting as it unfolds. Then plug the most important questions into a live survey and share the URL with all meeting participants. Respondents can use their mobile devices to contribute anonymous answers before they even return to their desks. Ending a meeting this way will bring the most important topics back to top of mind. It will also allow leaders to determine which subjects they need to revisit in future meetings.
Leave Time for Note Taking
The end of a meeting brings a flurry of activity: laptops and notepads closing, employees chatting and people heading off to their next destination. Something as simple as leaving a five-minute cushion for note-taking and organization can make a huge difference. After all, it’s easier for employees to remember action items and jot down thoughts while the material is fresh in their minds.
Wrap up each meeting with five minutes dedicated solely to administrative tasks like finishing notes, naming files and creating to-do lists. This allows employees to “get their ducks in a row,” so to speak. Everyone will walk out of the room with organized notes they can revisit any time they need a refresher.
Boosting information retention during staff meetings is a matter of promoting active learning, integrating information into a real-life context and encouraging participants to take useful notes.