‘Team meeting’ – it’s a phrase that many of us have come to dread. It conjures up images of a stuffy boardroom, colleagues droning on whilst others struggle to keep their eyes open and worst of all, they prevent everyone from doing the ‘actual important’ work they need to be getting on with.
Perfecting a meeting face and masking the internal boredom with an expression of keen interest and enthusiasm is becoming a more and more necessary work requirement.
Yet, despite growing resentment, meetings are still essential. A recent survey revealed that, on average, a UK employee sits through 6,329 meetings over the span of their career and this not going to change anytime soon.
So how can you ensure that meetings are a benefit rather than a burden?
Taking a bit more time to prepare for a meeting will save you time in the long term. Simply rustling something up at the last minute will just result in a vague and unclear agenda – to be avoided at all costs. Clear objectives ensure everyone is on the same page, leaving less room for the meeting to be side tracked or hijacked by that slightly over-talkative employee, so make sure you send an agenda in advance.
Keep it short
It may seem very obvious, but start on time. General conversation with colleagues is great for building work culture but do not let it eat into the meeting itself, causing it to overrun. Outline the strict time limit at the beginning of the meeting and keep everyone informed of the agenda and schedule throughout. Before commencing a new topic, make sure everyone is ready to move on, so you can avoid awkwardly jumping back and forth and wasting precious time. To really increase time efficiency, make employees stand up throughout the meeting. This eliminates the time needed to get seated and creates a sense of urgency.
Inject some fun
One person presiding over the meeting, going through a wordy PowerPoint presentation is guaranteed to result in snoozing colleagues. Use visual and even physical aids to keep the meeting interesting. Encourage as much interaction as possible, with regular questioning to the room and opportunities for employees to participate. You can even incorporate games and fun activities to keep everyone on their toes. If there is the promise of a prize as well, employees are certainly less likely to doze off.
Switch things ups
Pass more responsibility for the meetings to the employees themselves. If employees are dissatisfied with how meetings are run, give them the opportunity to organise the meetings and the agenda. Highlight any of the issues that will be discussed in the meeting and get them to write down and hand in their ideas beforehand. Having a say in the preparation means that employees will be more engaged and invested in the meeting itself. And if the boardroom is still regarded as the ‘bored room’, why not skip it entirely and conduct the meeting elsewhere or even off site?
Food for thought
There is nothing wrong with a little old fashioned bribery. Many companies now enlist the help of snacks or lunches to banish the boredom and quite literally fuel ideas and enthusiasm for team meetings. Chocolates or sweets can also be used as rewards for participation and contributions to the meeting, encouraging members to speak up.
The best way to ensure that you get the most out of a meeting is to have definitive calls to action at the end. These will include general business objectives to now be implemented, along with each individual’s specific tasks to achieve them. Leaving the meeting room armed with new duties will instil the feeling that the meeting had a distinct and proper purpose; rather than holding employees back, the meeting is helping employees and the company to move forward. Make sure a note is sent around after listing off the resulting email actions and the corresponding deadlines for each to keep staff accountable and efficient.
Meetings are and will remain an integral part of business. Rather than employees having to master the art of feigning interest or the even more impressive skill of sleeping with their eyes open, a few key changes to how they are run can banish boredom and more importantly maximise their productivity.
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