Creating Engaging Meetings For Millennials


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Running a productive meeting is difficult. You can’t get everything done that you want to accomplish. It’s all because of the Millennials in the room, isn’t it?

They’re more interested in their devices and don’t value in person conversations the same as before. They aren’t fully engaged because they are worried about the next task. They’re worried about the next opportunity, not the current one. They want to be heard but don’t want to listen.

Image Credit: / Contributor dolgachov
Image Credit: / Contributor dolgachov

This describes 80% of the attendees at every business meeting I’ve been in, not just Millennials.

Seth Godin (Author, Speaker, Idea guy and altMBA creator) doesn’t take meetings, in fact I could even call him an “Anti Meeting Cheerleader”, maybe more appropriately the “Efficient Meeting Cheerleader”. “It’s a huge mistake to just show up in a conference room and have a meeting” Seth Says while describing different types of meetings. Meanwhile our friends at Basecamp (Formally 37 Signals) say that “meetings are toxic”. They point out quit simply a one hour meeting with fifteen attendees is not a one hour meeting. This is a 15 hour productivity drain.

If meetings are that bad what can we do about them?

In this blog you’ll learn four tactics to engage meeting attendees. You’ll also learn how to ease anxiety related to meetings and address the ego of attendees.

Before we look at banning them all together lets look at pivoting them first. To pivot them we need to understand the mindset of everyone in the room. It’s not just your Millennial employees that are distracted.

Typical Meeting Distractions:

  • Lack of interest in the meeting topic or a mismatch.
  • Mobile devices and or laptops.
  • Worried about the next issues/meeting/topic – Distractions
  • People want to be heard

The agenda/or lack of one is a real problem.

People are naturally anxious and worried about their best interests. If you schedule a meeting without an agenda, the anxiety level of invited attendees will rise. In many cases this happens without attendees realizing it. If you receive an invite for a meeting about project X and no other details, thoughts about the meeting go into overdrive. “Am I being pulled into project X?”, “What if they talk about my teams involvement in project X and I’m not there” or even “They shouldn’t be talking about project X without me there”. All this when the meeting was really about the color of the user interface for project X.

Not having time to create an agenda is no excuse.

We are running faster than ever before and the easy crutch is to use a lack of time as an excuse for not having an agenda. We’ve all been there, it’ll happen again. Instead of using time as an excuse, spend the first 5 minutes of the meeting outlining an agenda. Give participants the opportunity to add to the agenda and allow others to excuse themselves once it’s developed. Yes with 15 participants, you’ve wasted 5 minutes of their time to create an agenda but you’ve made up for it, even if one person can excuse themselves when they realize they aren’t needed.

Now you have an agenda with everyone’s buy in, lets keep the attention.

We needed airplane mode on our phone because we can’t use data when we are in the air. Our workforce is now in need of “meeting mode”. I once worked for someone who said at the beginning of a meeting, “Don’t take notes, close your laptops and put your phones away”. This isn’t the answer. We all use our devices differently, we all learn and pay attention in unique ways. Some people take notes in a notebook, it helps retain information. Others use a phone, tablet or laptop, it saves time transferring or searching through written notes.

Encourage meeting mode on devices.

Meeting mode may not exist yet, but some savy developer will create it soon. Meeting Mode means no emails, no social media and no notifications unless it’s an URGENT Call. To make this work, you must encourage a culture of true urgency. An instant/text message or email shouldn’t be used for urgent issues. If something is truly urgent, pick up the phone and dial a number. With this type of mentality in an organization there would be no need to watch emails for urgent messages.

Bring mindfulness into the meeting.

As humans we never stop thinking or worrying. Sometimes all it takes to be mindful is a little reminder. It’s your job as the meeting facilitator to bring attention to mindfulness. There are some simple tricks to start a meeting with mindfulness, one is to simply ask. Ask your attendees for full commitment. This simple gesture brings focus to the importance of being present. Be sure that your audience understands why the topic is important. What outcomes of this meeting will help your customers or employees? When everyone in a meeting is pursuing the same objective and agrees, they are more likely to pay attention.

“Today we are meeting about the color of the user interface for project X, the color of the interface is important because it could upset customers which could lead to a loss in subscribers. I know we are all busy and worried about many projects, I’d appreciate your full attention to this topic for the next 30 minutes.”


Everyone wants to be heard, even if they don’t have anything to say. People want their opinions to be valued. They want to feel as if they are contributing. Instead of listening, we spend time thinking about what question we’ll ask or how your voice will be heard. Anticipate this early, set the expectations, facilitate like a pro. When a new idea is presented, call on your attendees by name for input at appropriate points. “What do you think about this idea Sulima?”, “Malcom what concerns would you have”. When attendees feel that there opinion matters they are more likely to fully participate, to put their ego aside and contribute fully.

Four ways to create engaging meetings for Millennials everyone.

  1. Ease anxiety and save time by creating an agenda. If you “don’t have time” use the first five minutes of your meeting and allow people to excuse themselves if they don’t need to attend.
  2. Create a culture of “meeting mode” for devices, encourage employees to use phone calls for urgent matters. Avoid the use of mobile devices during meetings for emails and social media.
  3. Focus on meeting mindfulness, ask your attendees for full commitment to the meeting topic. Remind the group of the importance and impact of the topic, how it might impact customers or employees. A simple reminder is all it takes.
  4. Satisfy the need to be heard for full contribution. Facilitate like a pro and ask for opinions and input through the meeting, call people by name.

Did you like this blog? Did you find one of these tips helpful or was it a good refresher? If so, someone else you know might get the same insight, Tweet it out or Share it.

Nicholas Klisht
Nicholas Klisht is a Director at ConvertiCulture and Millennial Leader. He believes that before organizations can sell more, decrease costs or fully realize their potential they must nurture their culture. Nicholas has held Sr. Management and Executive level roles at two of North America's largest financial institutions . He has also worked as a consultant and business coach. Nicholas is a blogger that has been featured in Yahoo Financial, Destination CRM, Execs in the Know and on various other sites. Nicholas takes individuals from where they are, beyond where they even thought possible.


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