5 Actionable Tips to Improve Meeting Engagement

Written by 
Bryan Kitch
February 22, 2023
Three women engaged in a meeting with other individuals speaking to each other in the background.

A meeting where all team members are speaking up, listening to each other, and actively participating can really inspire a team. An engaged meeting builds team spirit, collaborative teamwork, and enthusiasm. It brings more heads together to get your work done and done well.

Disengagement in team meetings, however, drains everyone involved. It lowers moods, makes people feel like their teammates don’t care, and makes it less likely that information will be retained or acted on. If your meetings aren’t engaging, you’re wasting the two biggest resources you have — the time and the talents of your team. 

Luckily, meeting engagement is something that you can encourage with just a few simple steps. Structure, preparation, and support for collaboration are key. You want to make employees feel that their ideas are valued and welcome and build meetings that foster easy conversation and teamwork. 

Incorporate these five practices to have effective meetings that everyone on your team engages with. 

1. Do your prep to make sure meetings are necessary and useful

The first step in improving meeting engagement is putting in pre-work ahead of time to set meetings up for success. Figure out who needs to be there, how long it needs to be, and what resources you need to gather ahead of time to hold a productive meeting. 

Assesses whether this needs to be a meeting or if it would be more appropriate as an async collaboration. Write up an agenda that clearly outlines the purpose and intended outcome of your meeting. 

This is helpful because it ensures that employees aren’t drained by attending too many unnecessary meetings. Active meeting participation will drop off if they get used to sitting in on meetings where their contributions aren’t needed. Instead, with only the important meetings to focus on, they will be more productive and engaged.

It is also vital to share the meeting agenda early so that team members have time to think about the topic of the meeting and generate ideas to share. Not everyone does their best thinking in the moment. For those employees who take more time to think over topics, having an agenda ahead of time will ensure that they have things to share during the meeting.

Related: 5 Tips to Take More Effective Meeting Notes

2. Get team members in the right mindset with icebreakers

Icebreakers and check-ins get team members in the mindset to talk and engage during meetings. It’s hard to jump into a conversation without a warmup! Icebreakers are especially important to help introverts, new team members, or anyone else who might have trouble getting out of their comfort zone and speaking up.

You can try out a few different icebreakers to see what works for your team and tailor them for in-person, hybrid, or virtual meetings.

  • Games. People enjoy games. They can lift moods and get people excited. Try games where team members have to collaborate in order to build those skills.
  • Check-ins. Start a meeting by encouraging team members to share their status updates or what kind of mindset they’re in that day. If everyone’s high energy, you can have a more active meeting. If folks are run-down from an intense work sprint, you might decide together to keep the meeting brief and focused.
  • Questions. Start your meeting by going around with an icebreaker question. This gets everyone’s minds working and makes sure everyone speaks at least once. Icebreaker questions are an especially good strategy for a virtual meeting.
  • Activities. Try a collaborative activity that gets team members working together on something fun or interesting. Virtual whiteboards are a great way to work together to create a team map, dream board, or just share silly team facts.
  • Create ground rules. You can set the stage by collaborating on creating team agreements or ground rules together. They will help team members feel respected and safe in contributing.

3. Facilitate your meeting to create a supportive environment

Meeting facilitators play an important role in making sure participants feel safe and are encouraged to participate. Choose a facilitator before the meeting. The role can change between team members from meeting to meeting, or the team lead can play the role.

Facilitators should set an example by listening to everyone and treating their ideas with respect. They can gently redirect any behavior that discourages engagement, such as side conversations, interrupting, and shooting down ideas.

When the conversation lapses, they can ask guiding questions. If they notice specific team members are quiet or distracted, they can bring the conversation to them by asking their opinion. Facilitators can guide a brainstorming session in the right direction by redirecting conversations if they get off track.

4. Use virtual whiteboards to open up collaboration

Visual aids encourage collaboration by helping participants understand each other’s thoughts better and visualize the bigger picture they’re putting together in real time. You might draw out notes on a whiteboard or sketch ideas on a piece of paper to help organize your thoughts.

Online whiteboards are an even more powerful tool for collaborating visually. All team members can add their ideas simultaneously without stepping on each other's toes, and you build automatic meeting notes that get saved for reference later. You can even set up a template that will guide your meeting in the right direction from the start.

Visual aids also make it easier for participants who are more visual learners rather than auditory. Everyone absorbs information differently, so making more modes of collaboration accessible encourages different types of people to be more engaged.

5. Hold reflections to improve meeting effectiveness over time

You can build more engaged meetings over time by reflecting on what is going well in meetings and what you can work on improving. Hold regular meeting reflections so that team members can share their thoughts and think critically about how you’re approaching meetings. 

A meeting reflection is a space where team members have a chance to flag small problems so they don’t become bigger over time. They can also speak up if they have ideas for how to make meetings more engaging or function better for the specific people involved. 

Give team members a chance to identify why they’re not engaging as much as they can and work out solutions as a group. If meeting participants are actively involved in creating the types of meetings that feel productive for themselves, they’ll be more engaged overall. 

Bonus tip: Try making your meeting asynchronous to free up your team’s schedule

Asynchronous (or async) meetings give team members the opportunity to contribute to the discussion without having to compete for airtime. This helps level the playing field and allow everyone to participate, regardless of their communication style or level of introversion. When all team members have a chance to share their thoughts and ideas, it can help to increase engagement and buy-in from the entire team.

Async meetings also allow for team members to carefully consider their responses on their own time, providing more thoughtful and well-constructed feedback. This can lead to more productive and meaningful discussions, increasing team engagement and boosting productivity.

Meetings are broken, but async work can fix them. Get the guide on async collaboration.

Plan meetings that will build your team spirit

You don’t just want team meetings to be active; you want to foster team engagement that lasts. Engaging meetings are a key component of employee engagement overall. They give everyone an opportunity to share their thoughts, learn from each other, and build the trust and connections they need to collaborate throughout their work.

To ensure your meetings are truly engaged, build a culture of collaboration and support throughout your team. Use platforms like Mural to get teams in the habit of collaborating, contributing, and sharing their ideas. The more used to sharing ideas your teams are, the more they will engage during meetings and outside of them.

Can't decide?

We've got you covered with our icebreaker generator.

Generate icebreaker

...Click button to generate icebreaker

What day in your life would you like to relive?
Describe yourself in three words.
What was your dream job as a kid?
If you could be a character in any movie, what character and what movie would it be?
What three items would you bring with you on a deserted island?
What would you title your biography?
A genie grants you one wish; what do you wish for?
What is the best concert or festival you have ever been to?
If you could make an office rule that everyone had to follow for a day, what would it be?
If you invented an ice cream flavor, what ingredients would it have, and what would it be called?
What was your last Netflix (or other streaming platform) binge?
Which two companies would you like to be sponsored by?
What is your favorite breakfast cereal?
If you could add a holiday to the calendar, what would it be and when?
If you could organize a team retreat, where would it be?
Who has influenced your work ethic the most?
If you could swap roles with anyone for one day, who would it be?
If you were a genre of music, what would it be?
What movie has the best soundtrack?
What is your go-to karaoke song?
If you could name a band, what would it be called?
Which band would you join? And what would your role be?
Which artist or musician would you like to meet?
What song brings back childhood memories?
Would you rather spend a weekend in a tropical paradise or a snow haven?
Would you rather sail or 'van life' your way around the world?
Would you rather speak 10 languages or play 10 instruments?
Would you rather only read the end of every book or always forget the story’s ending?
Would you rather have slow internet or always forget your passwords?
Would you rather have every traffic light turn green or always have the best parking spot?
Would you rather be a whale or a lion?
Would you rather get free plane tickets or free accommodations for the rest of your life?
Would you rather be able to control time or fly?
Would you rather always be two hours early or 20 minutes late?
Why do we create art?
Where do you find inspiration?
If you could invite anyone in the world, historical or contemporary, who would be the three guests at your dinner table?
Who is your favorite travel buddy or group?
What is your favorite scene from a movie?
When was the last time you tried something for the first time?
When do you feel the most courageous?
What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?
What’s your favorite holiday celebration?
What three things would you do if you were invisible?
What piece of advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
What subject do you wish was taught in every school?
What is your superpower?
What is your favorite travel hack?
What is your proudest achievement?
What is your favorite travel story?
What is your favorite season?
What is your DJ name?
What is the most underrated city you have ever visited?
What is the best piece of feedback you have ever received?
What is the best prank you’ve experienced or planned?
What travel experience, city, or country impacted you the most?
What are the top three items on your bucket list?
What are the three values you treasure the most in a friendship?
Tell us your favorite joke.
Tell us a weird fact you happen to know for no reason.
If your pet could talk, what would they say?
If your life was captured in the “expectation vs. reality” meme, what would the two pictures be?
If you could take one prop from any movie set, what would it be?
If you had to sleep on a beach anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If you could organize a team retreat, where would it be?
If you could live in a different country for a year, which country would you choose?
Do you over or under-decorate for the holidays?
Name five things that make you happy
Do you consider yourself a lemon or a lime? Why?
If you could know the answer to any question, what would that question be?

About the author

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.