There are several things you can do to keep employees engaged during meetings. Start by grabbing their attention, keep it with a powerful presentation, visual aids, and meaningful discussion.

Start your meeting with a question. The type of question you ask will depend on the reason for your meeting. For example, “What are some of the challenges you are most concerned about as you think about next quarter?” This is a good time for people to express their concerns and personal motivations.

If everyone agrees to start on a positive note, go around the room and ask if anyone has some good news to share or something they want to celebrate. Just make sure not to get carried away by having everyone share their feelings. Limit the social time and then focus on the business at hand.

When presenting information to an audience, the most important thing to remember is that everyone has a different learning style. Everyone will not understand your point the first time you say it. One way to help a wider range of people learn is by having a visual aid. Most likely, this will be a Powerpoint presentation. Choose the Powerpoint rule that works best for you:

10-20-30 Rule: Your entire presentation should have no more than 10 slides, last no longer than 20 minutes, and have no less than 30 point font.

20-20 Rule: Your presentation should have 20 slides each lasting exactly 20 seconds.

6-6 Rule: Your presentation should have no more than 6 bullet points per slide and no more than 6 words per line.

The B key: If you press the “B” key while your Powerpoint or Keynote slide is showing, the screen will go blank. This is useful if you need to digress or move off the topic presented on the slide. When you are ready to move on, just press the “B” key again and the image reappears.

It’s tempting to turn the lights off so that your slides look better, but turning off the lights - besides inducing sleep - puts all focus on the screen. Your attendees should be looking at you more than the screen!

These rules cannot be applied simultaneously and should not be applied to every single Powerpoint presentation you give. They are guidelines to help you create a clear and concise presentation.

One of the keys to giving an engaging presentation is to tell stories. Your speech should be entertaining and informative. Take your time, speak slowly, add pauses for emphasis, and let your passion for the topic be evident.Make eye contact with your audience. Don’t just look at the people who were required to be there or high powered decision makers. Pay just as much attention to the attendees from your optional list, you never know who may have influence on a decision maker. Move away from the podium, get closer to your audience, walk around a little, use body language to emphasize your message.

Practice what you will say out loud. We all have a comfort word or sound that will make its way into our speech: um, like, uh, ya know, etc. The trick to avoid annoying your audience with your comfort words is to Breathe In, Not Out. Take a breath in instead of saying your comfort word. This will definitely take some practice, but your audience will thank you!

By the end of your presentation, some people will have follow-up questions. Some questions you may have prepared answers for, others may surprise you and you may need to take an extra second to think. Use statements like, “that’s a really good question” or “I’m glad you asked me that” to buy yourself an extra few seconds to organize your response. You can also ask other meeting attendees for their input, this may help answer some questions as well.

Once all questions are answered review what has been accomplished, go over the next steps, and who is doing what. When you’re back at your desk send out notes to all your attendees with clearly outlined action items, who is responsible for what, and a timeline for completion.