When’s the last time you got excited about a meeting?
If you can’t think of a time, you’re not alone. In fact, even executives consider 67% of meetings failures. And who can blame them? Most meetings tend to be uninspiring. The manager might open with a review of an agenda and within five minutes eyes are glazed over and half the room is mindlessly checking their emails or multitasking on other work.
But when unproductive meetings waste more than $37 billion a year, it’s clear we have a problem.
The trick is finding the solution.
We’ve already talked about the importance of shifting from “running a meeting” to facilitating one. Facilitating meetings leads to more meaningful engagement and participation, resulting in collaborative planning and group decision-making.
But what does that actually look like? Step one is making a good first impression. You want to start your meetings off strong and get people fired up—no matter the topic of conversation. That’s where an “excite statement” comes in.
Use these tips to kick off your meeting facilitation with a bang and keep your team engaged from the top of the agenda to the bottom.
What is an excite statement?
So what’s all the excitement about? That’s what your “excite statement” should relay to the team. An excite statement is essentially your introduction to the meeting. It helps meeting facilitators build an energetic connection to the purpose, outcomes, and overall structure of the meeting. Instead of reviewing the agenda or even relaying the ground rules for the meeting, you want to start off with an intro that answers two fundamental questions:
- Why are we here?
- Why should you care?
Too often, a meeting facilitator’s opening leaves participants uncertain about the meeting’s purpose, goals, and processes. When this happens, participants tend to lose focus on the next steps, resulting in no action being taken.
But when participants understand the purpose of the meeting right off the bat, and why it should matter to them, you’ve successfully connected them to the problem to be solved or the decisions to be made.
How to write and use an excite statement
Don’t worry. Delivering a great excite statement doesn’t mean you have to be a chipper cheerleader.
Your job as the meeting facilitator is simply to introduce the purpose of the meeting and connect your participants to those goals. In other words, your excite statement should help inform, excite, involve, and empower your participants. After all, the goal of meeting facilitation is not to run the show but help the group collaborate successfully around the meeting priorities.
Limit your statement to a few sentences and deliver it within the first few minutes of the meeting.
Here’s how to get started.
Start with POWER
“POWER” is a mnemonic device that helps meeting facilitators identify and prepare important details before each meeting. Use the POWER format to help you outline the messaging for your excite statement.
Your excite statement should communicate the following:
Purpose—Why is the meeting necessary? You can state this directly and matter-of-factly with a statement like, “The purpose of this meeting is to…”
Outcomes—What do we need to achieve? What are the target deliverables? Follow up the stated purpose with exactly what you should accomplish by the end of the meeting. You can say something like, “When we are done, we will walk away with…”
What’s in it for Me—Participants want to know why this matters to them. This is your chance to inspire and excite them about the benefits of a positive outcome to the meeting. Remember to make this about them—not just the benefit to the business. And use words like “you” and “your” throughout your statement to more effectively connect them to the message.
Engagement—How are you going to get input from the participants? Empower them to participate and engage in the discussion by sharing why they were invited, what authority or experience they bring to the table, and how they can participate.
“You were hand-picked by your managers to participate in this brainstorming session because they felt you had the on-the-ground experience and technical know-how to bring the insights and perspective we need to develop an effective solution.”
Roles and responsibilities—Who does what? Clarify what roles or responsibilities participants have during and after the meeting. This will help participants understand how to get involved and what they need to do.
Write your statement
With your POWER notes outlined, you’re ready to craft a clear, polished excite statement.
Here’s an example of a finished statement:
“Good morning and welcome! Let me start by reviewing why we are here. Our purpose for this meeting is to brainstorm ideas and outline a plan to streamline our onboarding process for new hires. When we are done, we should walk away with an updated onboarding process, including a prioritized list of changes.
You were selected to participate because you are either a manager with new hires on your team or you recently went through the onboarding process yourself. This is your opportunity to share your first-hand experience and use your insights to improve the onboarding experience for future hires.
Before we get started, I’ll go over some logistics. We are going to brainstorm as a whole group and in small breakouts with assigned topics. I’ll facilitate the group discussion. I have a list of topics prepared that we will go over first and you should feel free to add to the list before we break out. Does that work for everybody?”
Practice your delivery
It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. If you want your excite statement to pack a punch, you have to get the delivery right.
When you nail the delivery, the energy among the participants will expand and the meeting will begin with enthusiasm. We recommend practicing the delivery ahead of time on your own and then inviting a friend or two to watch a mock run and offer their feedback.
Pay attention to your timing, tone, and even your posture and body language. The energy you convey in your delivery will impact how energized (or deflated) your listeners will be.
Start your meeting off on the right foot
With your statement prepared and your delivery practiced and polished, it’s time to rally the troops. Once everyone has arrived, jump right in and deliver your excite statement.
Don’t worry about making introductions or listing off the agenda items yet. That can all come later. By kicking off with your excite statement first, you can set the tone and build the energy and focus you need to facilitate an effective meeting. This will prepare participants to engage with the discussion and will give ownership of the meeting to the group rather than the meeting facilitator.
Meeting facilitation is about empowering the group to take ownership of the discussion and the outcomes of the meeting. Your job as the meeting facilitator is to get the meeting started on the right foot. Keep these tips handy so you can craft motivating excite statements that will level up your meetings.
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Lucidspark, a cloud-based virtual whiteboard, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This cutting-edge digital canvas brings teams together to brainstorm, collaborate, and consolidate collective thinking into actionable next steps—all in real time. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucidspark.com.