Ways to Get People to Attend Business Meetings

Mary Gormandy White
Where is everyone?

If you're in charge of your company's staff meetings and find it difficult to motivate people to attend, the following creative ways to get people to attend business meetings may be of help.

Attitudes Toward Business Meetings

First, it helps to understand people's attitudes toward business meetings. It's not surprising that most people don't look forward to business meetings. In fact, many professionals actually dread attending staff meetings, viewing them as something to be endured rather than as helpful events. Some individuals feel meetings waste their time, and keep them from engaging in productive work.

Why Don't People Like Business Meetings?

People tend to have negative attitudes toward attending business meetings for a variety of reasons. The most common is because they feel their time would be better spent doing something productive.

Employees who dislike meetings have generally been required to attend multiple meetings that really were wastes of their time. Often managers call meetings without thinking through who really needs to attend ahead of time. This often results in employees being ordered to sit through meetings in which they have no relevant involvement.

Additionally, it's not uncommon for meetings to take much longer than necessary. This often happens when meeting organizers don't prepare agendas ahead of time. Without an agenda, meetings tend to be unfocused and attendees ill-prepared for the topics of discussion.

Practical Ways to Keep People From Dreading Meetings

The following ways to get people to attend business meetings are both practical and functional:

Timely Meetings

Make a point of starting meetings at the scheduled time. In addition to establishing a beginning time for your meetings, publish an ending time as well. No matter what, stop the meeting when it is scheduled to end. If there is unfinished business, schedule another meeting to take care of it.

Publish the Agenda

When you call a meeting, write and publish the meeting agenda. Ideally, you should include the agenda on the same memo or email you use to invite participants to attend the meeting. When you share the agenda with attendees from the very beginning, they are more likely to understand why their presence is needed at the meeting. With a published agenda, attendees will also be able to prepare ahead of time, which can make the actual event progress smoothly and quickly.

Stick to the Agenda

The agenda you publish should in fact be the agenda followed for the meeting. If one or more of the participants tries to get off track, ask them to submit their topics for the next meeting's agenda. Those who dread meetings that get off topic will appreciate the fact that the agenda really means something, and you'll be able to maintain control of the event.

Consequences for Non-Attendance

If you have employees who choose not to attend business meetings that they are supposed to attend, it's important to put a stop to such behavior. If one employee is allowed to get away with skipping mandatory meetings, other employees will follow suit if no consequences result for non-compliance with policy.

It's important to implement and consistently enforce disciplinary procedures for problem employee behavior. This can prevent attendance problems from becoming worse in the future, and will reinforce expectations for employee behavior to all staff members.

Creative Ways to Get People to Attend Business Meetings

On-Time Drawing

Allow everyone who comes to the meeting on time to place his or her business card in a fish bowl or other container. Draw one of the cards and award a cash prize to the winner. If you hold this type of drawing at the beginning of every meeting, people will not only look forward to attending the meeting, they'll also make a point of getting there on time or even early. The amount of the prize really doesn't matter. It can be $10 or $100, or any amount in between. No matter how large or small the denomination, the winner will be thrilled. What is important is that you do not allow anyone who shows up late to add his or her name to the drawing. The purpose of this type of contest is to reward those who arrive on time.

Feed the Meeting Participants

Food can be a powerful motivator in the workplace. If your budget allows, it's a good idea to periodically schedule staff meetings around meal periods and have lunch catered for your staff. This can be a great way to keep your staff from dreading periodic get-togethers. Sharing meals with co-workers can actually be a beneficial team building activity.

Choosing Ways to Get People to Attend Meetings

When considering things you can do to encourage the employees in your organization to attend business meetings, stop and think about how meetings are handled in your workplace.

You may even want to ask employees for suggestions about how to make meetings more beneficial to them. Give employees a chance to provide anonymous feedback regarding what they think would make your company's business meetings more effective. Every office is different, and it's important to address the challenges specific to your company and staff members.

Ways to Get People to Attend Business Meetings