12 Rules for Successful Safety Meetings
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You've prepared your PowerPoint presentation, arranged for demonstrations and gathered visual aids and props. Your workers know what the topic of discussion will be. You've come to accept pre-talk jitters and recognize them as normal. All in all, you're feeling well prepared for the weekly safety talk. Now, you have to swing into action and deliver it. Here are 12 rules to ensure your delivery is as effective as your preparation.
Rule #1 - Start the meeting on time. If you run late, they start looking at the clock. Such distraction can ruin a carefully prepared presentation.
Rule #2 - End the meeting on time. If you promised to keep it brief, keep it brief. If you promised to end by a certain time, end at that time. Understand your audience wants to get back to work and their time and patience is limited.
Rule #3 - Observe the KISS rule. Keep it straightforward and simple. Zero in on a few key points, and don't bore your audience by reviewing the whole safety manual in a single session. When it comes to safety training sessions, less is more!
Rule #4 - Stick to your agenda. Control the meeting, and don't let it turn into a social hour or a beef session. You should be flexible enough to respond to concerns expressed during the session, but still keep to the topic.
Rule #5 - Encourage questions. Remind participants there's no such thing as a dumb question. Questions enable you to make important points and get a sense of whether your message has gotten through. Repeat questions in your own words to make sure you understand and that everybody in the audience heard the question.
Rule #6 - You don't have all the answers. If a question comes up you can't answer, don't fake it. Promise to look into the matter and report back at the next safety talk. Better yet, direct the question to your audience to see if any of the participants have an answer.
Rule #7 - Find ways to involve participants. Ask them for examples of hazards and safeguards related to the topic, or have audience members pick a partner with whom they can take turns practicing the safety technique being discussed. This technique maintains audience interest and promotes retention of the discussion.
Rule #8 - Use Humor. This keeps the audiences attention and helps them remember what's being discussed.
Rule #9 - Show interest in your topic. You can't keep an audience engaged when the speaker appears bored with the topic. Be as animated as you can without resorting to acting or behavior that is unnatural for you.
Rule #10 - Some of your participants have years of experience and might have developed the safety procedures you're discussing. If the topic is familiar to your audience, treat it as a review. At the same time, guard against complacency. Remind participants that even experienced workers develop unsafe habits.
Rule #11 - End your meeting on a positive note. Sum up the key points with any further action you want workers to take following the safety meeting. Thank the audience for taking time to participate in the session.
Rule #12 - Honor your promises. If you promise to follow up on a safety concern for (or before) an upcoming meeting, make sure you do. There is no surer way to lose both credibility and respect than making promises you don't keep.
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