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The first 5 minutes of a meeting matter most. Here’s how to spend them


“How can I get my team to engage? I’m doing everything right, but they’re still just sitting there.”

I was talking with a frustrated leader at a healthcare facility. Her team meetings had always been lackluster, so she’d decided to fix them. She’d scoured the internet for best practices, then worked hard to get organized.

Elise Keith.
Courtesy of Elise Keith

For the past month, she’d sent an agenda in advance of every meeting. She started precisely on time. She’d taken notes and ended on time too. And yet, after she talked through the agenda and they’d heard their first report, her requests for comments were met with crickets. No one had much to add. Many didn’t seem to be paying attention at all.

Unfortunately, while she’d diligently followed all those “best practices,” she’d missed the most important step.

If you want people to engage during a meeting, you have to make that clear up front. Great meetings get everyone engaged within the first five minutes.

Here are four ways to successfully open your meeting, and why it matters.



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