Elizabeth Doty has written a good article for Strategy+Business titled, "How to Boost People's Energy and Productivity During Meetings." Doty offers several useful strategies.
1. Offer a clear, compelling prompt. Most often, this prompt should come in the form of a question that both focuses the discussion and stretches people's thinking.
2. Don't start with a blank slate. Give people some fuel to energize their thinking. Doty writes, "You might provide a messy first draft or a sketch for them to react to, or tell the story of a recent incident that relates to the project goal. One of my colleagues likes to start work sessions with a live phone interview with a customer, employee, or stakeholder." I love the interview technique. What a great way to ground the discussion in the actual challenges faced by key constituents and to insure that executives are not too isolated from what's really happening on the front lines.
3. Consider shifting formats. We have all become pretty adept at the breakout group format in Zoom these days. Don't let that notion go away when you return to in-person meetings. Provide some time for small subgroup discussions amidst a larger team meeting. For instance, David Garvin and I wrote in the past about the power of what scholars call the dialectical inquiry method for making decisions. In that technique, you break a team into multiple subgroups and ask them to generate contrasting alternatives. Then, the subgroups come together to debate these options, critique each other's ideas, and then revise their proposals.
4. Give the team some templates to help structure their thinking. These templates might include an affinity map, journey map, cause-effect diagram, or business model canvas. These structures can help channel the conversation and provide a tangible product at the end of the meeting that can be shared with others and that captures everyone's thinking.