We’ve all sat through those meetings. You know the type: when the information could have been provided over email, or condensed into a short five minutes? But alas, you showed up and you spent an hour of your time listening to someone talk at you while you struggle to stay engaged.

Genevieve Risner

Genevieve Risner, Director, Ernst and Young Communication Center Department.

The Eli Broad College of Business President’s Council, a group composed of Broad student organization presidents, took it upon themselves to find ways to run more effective meetings.

Most students join student clubs and organizations not just to build a strong resume, but to also make connections with other people and make a positive impact in the community. Because of these reasons, engaging meetings are important to long-term investment from members.

Genevieve Risner, director of the Ernst and Young Communication Center, spoke to the group of young business leaders to help them run effective meetings that encourage participation out of everyone. Here are the main takeaways:

  1. Call a meeting only when necessary. Your meeting should have a purpose. If you call a meeting where you’ll only be providing information and there aren’t any goals to accomplish “we’re violating people’s expectations where they believe they’d be contributing,” said Risner.
  2. Avoid ostracism. From making sure you’re making eye contact with everyone, to verbally communicating with individuals, it can make the difference between someone feeling included or excluded.
  3. Ask well-designed questions. Remember to ask only one question at a time, don’t ask biased questions, and seek other perspectives. “When you ask questions, it helps people take ownership and want to stay involved or take on a project,” said Risner.
  4. Implement strategic activities. Risner offered multiple suggestions: get a foam board and pushpins to create a spectrum so you can understand how people feel about an issue or idea, or break off into smaller brainstorming groups that present their ideas to the group at large.
  5. Speak the same amount of time that you’re listening. “I’m a facilitator for other people to feel like they have a voice, they’re cared about,” said Risner. “Build that relationship with them.”