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9 ways to make team meetings more engaging
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9 ways to make team meetings more engaging

Tired of team members zoning out during meetings? Learn how you can make them more engaging with the right approach and tools.

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In the 1960s, Doug Engelbart invented the first computer mouse while working at the Stanford Research Institute¹. His goal? To revolutionize the way we use computers to work together. In 1968, Engelbart demonstrated the applications of his mouse in an interactive display that’s become known as “the mother of all demos.” Capabilities included real-time text editing, multiple windows with flexible view control, and shared-screen teleconferencing. 

Fast forward to today and the tech has evolved beyond Engelbart’s wildest dreams. The jury’s out on whether our team meetings are any more engaging and interactive than his demo, though. 

Team meetings are essential to drive progress on projects. But that can’t happen if people aren’t engaged and contributing—or even present!

Leaders of highly collaborative teams need to think beyond just getting people to show up and report on progress. Instead, they need to be intentional about fostering an environment where everyone actively participates and contributes. This makes meetings more engaging and productive—so engaging that nobody will want to miss them.

In this post, we’ll dive deep into nine practical and effective ways to make your team meetings more engaging and productive. We'll also explore how the right meeting platform can help you boost team connections and build a company culture people want to be a part of.

Tired of low engagement in team meetings?
Switchboard helps you turn team meetings into collaborative, interactive discussions that keep everyone involved.
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9 ways to make team meetings more engaging

Making your team meetings more engaging doesn't require a complete makeover. Your usual meeting tactics are still valuable—they just need a bit of fine-tuning to grab and hold people’s attention. Here are some practical strategies to make your in-person and virtual meeting best practices more engaging:

1. Take turns running the meeting

Ever found yourself just sitting there zoning out while one person speaks? The monotony of one-sided meetings means they aren’t enjoyable for anyone. But letting team members take turns running them makes them more lively and engaging. Here are some ideas for how to do so:

  • Delegate the role of meeting facilitator: That way, it’s clear who’s leading the meeting, which creates a sense of ownership and responsibility—and more engagement. 
  • Rotate the facilitator role: This lets each team member guide the discussion, which ensures everyone's voice is heard. 

While not all meetings can have a rotating facilitator, it’s definitely possible to give everyone a chance to run your daily stand ups or weekly brainstorms. While this may seem like a little detail, it goes a long way toward helping you motivate and engage employees.  

2. Start on a positive  

American writer Dale Carnegie once said, "People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” This applies to team meetings as well.

Research on human behavior identifies a phenomenon called “emotional contagion,” which basically means people often sync their behaviors to match the emotional states of people around them. In other words, setting the mood right at the start can have a big influence on how the meeting goes. 

Kick off your meetings with a positive note to set the tone. Here’s how you can do that:  

  • Start with the wins: Share a small win, a team or company achievement, or a personal accomplishment from one or more team members.
  • Use mood music: During company-wide meetings or all-hands, you could kick off the session with an upbeat tune to get everyone's energy levels up.

  • Take the temperature: In smaller group meetings, beginning with a “temperature check” of everyone's feelings on a scale of 1-10 makes everyone feel heard and valued. This helps you address any immediate concerns and sets a caring, supportive tone for the rest of the meeting. One way to do this is a “traffic light check-in” where you ask employees how their day is going. Red signifies a challenging day and a need for support, yellow indicates things are okay but could be better, and green suggests a fantastic day and a high energy level. You can offer team members who respond “red” more support, and ask team members who respond “green” to share why they’re having such a good day.
A screenshot of four meeting participants in a Switchboard room.
Starting small team meetings with a quick mood check-in builds trust and helps team members empathize with each other. Source: Switchboard

3. Include everyone  

One of the biggest virtual meeting challenges is helping everyone feel like they’re part of the conversation. With almost a quarter of remote workers spending over six hours of the work week in meetings, it’s important to ensure every member feels seen and heard when they can’t get together in person. 

Let's explore a few ways to boost employee engagement during meeting:

  • Use warmers/games: Begin your meeting with an engaging activity. For instance, a quick game of “Two Truths and a Lie” or a quiz not only breaks the ice but also gives everyone a chance to participate and gives people a glimpse into their colleagues' lives, helping them feel more connected to their teammates. 
  • Use polls and surveys: Conduct a live poll or survey during your meetings. This could be something as simple as sending a survey to everyone with a question like, “Write down a word for how you’re feeling today.” Or share a poll asking everyone on the team what they want to do for the next team-building event. Getting input like this helps them feel that their views are valued, which boosts engagement. 
  • Use breakout rooms: If you're hosting a large meeting, consider using breakout rooms for a portion of it. Divide participants into smaller groups for a focused discussion or a group task. This change of pace breaks up long meetings and gives quieter team members a more comfortable space to speak up.
  • Get feedback: Asking for feedback helps you keep everyone included and lets you get everyone’s opinions on how your meetings are going and how you can improve the next meeting. Doug Arms, COO at TemPositions says, “I think calling on people proactively through the meeting is a great mechanism to solicit feedback.” This way, you ensure that even quieter voices are heard, and everyone feels part of the conversation.

While some team members feel comfortable speaking up and sharing their ideas in meetings, others tend to shy into the background. So, while it may not seem like much, including these practices in your team meetings encourages participation and helps everyone feel more included and part of the team. 

4. Make meetings more collaborative 

A meeting without collaboration can feel more like a one-way presentation, which isn’t helpful for sharing ideas or coming up with solutions together. You can encourage collaboration by creating opportunities for brainstorming and interactive problem-solving.

To do so, consider these strategies:

  • Share the agenda and materials beforehand: Giving team members a chance to prepare for the meeting not only saves time but also enhances the quality of their contributions. This ensures everyone comes to the meeting ready to share their thoughts, ideas, and action items.
  • Use tools designed to let you work together: For example, Switchboard is a  collaborative digital workspace that recreates the feeling of being in a room together with all the resources you need. It lets everyone work simultaneously on browser-based apps, files, and documents, fostering real-time collaboration, unlike traditional video conferencing platforms that limit participant engagement to screen sharing. Best of all, its persistent rooms save your work so you can continue afterward. 
  • Ask people for their preferences: Before scheduling a meeting, ask team members if they believe it will be a valuable use of their time. This practice shows respect for their time and workload, encouraging them to be more invested in the meetings that really need to happen. 
A screenshot of three meeting participants in a Switchboard room with chats, docs, and platforms open.
Collaborative meeting environments with side-by-side working on documents, websites, and web-based apps make meetings more engaging Source: Switchboard

5. Make meetings more productive 

Meetings are supposed to help you get more done, not stifle creativity and limit productivity. That’s easier said than done, however, if you’re limited to taking turns presenting. Let’s take a look at a few tips for running more productive meetings: 

  • Set a clear purpose and goals upfront, providing a roadmap for the discussion: Keep the conversation focused and relevant, steering clear of unnecessary tangents like extended personal conversations or something unrelated to the agenda. 
  • Create and use designated project rooms in Switchboard: These give you a place to run design reviews, planning calls, and share status updates. This helps keep your team organized, brings clarity to decision-making, and promotes cross-functional collaboration. You can also use rooms for sprint planning or team meetings. 
  • If you finish early, consider giving that meeting time back to your team: Alternatively, you can use this time to just chat, learn more about each other, and discuss things outside of work. Encourage conversations about hobbies or weekend plans, even sharing a fun fact or two, but make this optional so busy team members can get back to work. People will appreciate getting some time back to get on with tasks. Or, if they’re not too busy, to build stronger connections. 
  • Send a “pre-read”: If you feel like the conversation is going to take up a lot of time and potentially be unproductive, a pre-read document contains a summary of what’s going to be discussed during the meeting so participants can prepare. It’s more in-depth than an agenda so you don’t want to spend time going over it in the meeting. Umesh Joshi, Founder of Calibr, says that “in cases where I anticipate diverse opinions and not being able to arrive at a conclusion quickly, a pre-read definitely helps.”

These tips aren't just about cutting down meeting time—they're about making every minute count so every call helps your team move forward together and feel aligned. 

6. Use the right meeting platform

If you’re running any meetings online, using the right virtual meeting platform is key. This should be a space where your team feels like they’re able to connect, contribute, and move projects forward together—or apart. 

The virtual workspace platform you choose should make it easy to communicate via video, audio, and chat. It should also serve as a digital workspace that lets you hold spontaneous calls with your team and run engaging meetings with clients. 

Switchboard lets you and your team work together on projects without being limited to screen sharing. Its persistent meeting rooms are designed to foster team engagement and productivity. You can create virtual rooms for brainstorming, host spontaneous meetings with your team, and connect with clients in an interactive space. 

Switchboard also lets you communicate in real time with video, audio, and chat. You can also work side-by-side allowing everyone to scroll, type, and browse the same document at the same time.

A screenshot of 2 meeting participants in a Switchboard room with planning docs, sticky notes and powerpoints open in one doc.
Switchboard lets teams work on the same documents and files during meetings. Source: Switchboard

7. Build a great company culture  

A strong company culture isn't just a bonus—it's the bedrock of effective meetings. When team members feel valued, trusted, and part of a positive company culture, they naturally engage more in meetings. These become an environment where they want to contribute, rather than a chore they have to endure. 

Create an atmosphere that people want to be part of and your meetings will naturally become more engaging, productive, and dynamic. It's about creating a space where every voice matters and every idea counts—and where people trust and empathize with each other. When you achieve this, they’ll be more ready to engage with and support each other, whether it’s in meetings, co-working sessions, or on the fly.

Recognition also plays a huge role in creating a positive company culture. Celebrate both big and small wins as this boosts morale and a sense of accomplishment. A simple shout-out or thank you, whether it be in a Slack channel or during an all-hands call, can go a long way. 

A screenshot of a Slack #wins channel
Create a designated channel on Slack where team members can share praise and shout each other out, creating a more supportive and inclusive culture.

8. Invite the right people

With meetings, more isn't always merrier: Overstuffing the invite list can actually make them less productive. When that happens, people are likely to disengage. As Umesh Joshi says, “I’ve found that having more than four to six people in a virtual meeting makes things difficult. I try to avoid inviting too many people, keeping meetings to four or five participants. When you have a limited number of people, it becomes easier to have everyone participate and contribute.”  

Only invite people who will actively contribute to the meeting. If someone's role is primarily to listen, consider providing them with a recording or a summary later. This minimizes distractions and keeps the meeting focused.

If you're unsure about someone's involvement, invite them as “optional” and stress that it's perfectly acceptable if they choose not to attend. This approach fits well with a company culture that values employees' autonomy and respects their judgment. It also empowers team members to assess their role in a meeting and to prioritize their tasks as they see fit.

9. Cancel the meeting

Ever seen the meme “I just survived another meeting that could have been an email”? We’ve all been there, right? That’s why you need to continually assess whether your meetings are essential.

Meetings are an important opportunity to bond, brainstorm, get clarity, make decisions, and move projects forward. But if your team is constantly sitting in meetings that don’t benefit or engage them, they could start feeling like a chore rather than a productive exercise. 

Sometimes, the best decision is to not have a meeting at all. If the meeting objective can be achieved through async updates or emails, opt for that instead. This respects everyone’s time and keeps meetings focused and engaging when they do occur. 

Making team meetings more engaging: The key to more productive teams

Team meetings aren’t just about reporting on progress or ticking boxes but an opportunity for real collaboration and connection. They’re also your opportunity to drive projects forward and create a space where everyone's voice matters.

Sure, it’s challenging to keep team members engaged and working together and make good use of everyone’s time and resources. But if you use the strategies discussed here, you’ll be well on the way to running more engaging and productive team meetings. For example, starting on a positive, inviting (only) the right people, creating a space where everyone can contribute and get work done, and using the right meeting platform. 

Switchboard helps you achieve that last goal by acting as a collaborative digital workspace where you can run meetings, move project work forward, pop into spontaneous brainstorming sessions, and give your employees a space where everyone feels comfortable participating. All with an engaging multiplayer experience that lets everyone contribute and work together on browser-based apps, documents, and files. No more one-sided screen sharing! 

Tired of low engagement in team meetings?Switchboard helps you turn team meetings into collaborative, interactive discussions that keep everyone involved.
Sign up for free.

Frequently asked questions about making team meetings more engaging

What are some creative ways to make team meetings more productive? 

Some ways to make team meetings more productive include:

  • Sending out a meeting agenda or pre-read to establish what exactly the meeting will cover 
  • Only inviting team members who will actively participate in the meeting, and sending a recording or meeting notes to everyone else
  • Using a collaborative platform like Switchboard that allows real-time, simultaneous work on documents 

What are some ways to keep a team meeting from being boring?

To keep a team meeting from being boring, you should start it on a positive note to set an engaging tone. So incorporate team-building games or icebreakers to promote employee engagement and lighten the mood. Additionally, use multimedia presentations to make information more digestible and engaging.

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Tired of low engagement in team meetings?

Switchboard helps you turn team meetings into collaborative, interactive discussions that keep everyone involved.