Meetings, bloody meetings! For those running them, they’re an opportunity to introduce a game-changing idea to key stakeholders, decision makers, and colleagues.
For those attending them, they’re an opportunity to do something less boring – catch up with emails, message friends etc – as long as no-one falls asleep – right?
Wrong. Oh so very wrong!
Research shows that over half of all employees zone out during meetings – a figure that’s even higher among remote workers.
Considering that an increasing number of businesses are championing remote working, meeting disengagement presents a huge loss of productivity – often due to repeat meetings to go over what should have been clear in the first instance!
Here are some ways to improve meetings: so that everyone benefits – with a little help from technology.
Prior Preparation Is Key
When preparation is lacking, attendees have a habit of automatically pushing your meeting way down their priority list. Turn this around by giving them material they can engage with – before the meeting begins.
While a simple agenda is standard practice, something more specific that requires them to deliver information or asks them to research and prepare questions ahead of time is a great idea.
Also, by approaching them personally, you’ll have a better chance of ensuring you have their full attention on the day – whether they’ll be there in person or joining via audio/video conference.
When colleagues join meetings remotely, it is difficult to tell exactly how engaged they are (especially if they don’t have to switch on their camera). While you may not be able to control their setup, you can involve them to ensure they have your full attention.
If a single person is responsible for every aspect of a meeting, it automatically defers to them to do anything else. Appointing a chairperson, notekeeper, and time keeper is a good idea: its splits responsibilities and gives more people a purpose – and reason to pay attention.
Use Technology To Your Advantage
Given the technology we now have available to us, we can do more to make meetings more interactive. Having something that grabs attention and encourages interaction will increase interest levels.
For example, smart boards and online visual workplace tools (such as NEC InfinityBoard, Microsoft Surface Hub, Prysm and Conceptboard) help attendees to focus on your meeting and gives them access to the content you want to discuss – allowing you to use and share a range of resources – PDFs, video, livestreams, slideshows, graphs, charts, and –yes– written notes as well.
Create Real Time Collaboration
One of the other big advantages of using digital tools is having access to real-time data and information. When a team has immediate oversight of a given task, situation, or topic, a viable decision or course of action can be reached much more quickly.
While emails, notes, and spreadsheets are effective in many ways, they’re not engaging enough to deliver information in a meeting environment. Giving everyone present in a meeting – whether they’re physically in the same room or not – a reason to offer their time and attention means using visual communication to your advantage.
Overall, meetings are a necessary evil. While there may be a lot of different ways to conduct them now, the need to make a lasting impact and keep people engaged hasn’t.
While it takes commitment and a mindset shift for companies to get meetings right, once mastered, they can only improve overall collaboration success.
Meeting Best Practice Pointers
- Define the purpose of the meeting and what you want the output to be.
- Decide who must attend – and what their role should be.
- Engage all invitees prior to the meeting – send an agenda and ask for input.
- Choose and reserve a suitable venue.
- Prepare any technology before the meeting.
- Decide who will chair the meeting, who will keep time, and who will take notes.
- Remind attendees what you expect from them before, during, and after the meeting
- Stick to the agenda. Assigning time limits may help with this.
- Give everyone the chance to express their opinion.
- Constantly ensure all attendees are aware of what’s been agreed and decided.
- Actively look for feedback and ensure actions are communicated within 24 hours.
- Remind those with actions when they need to deliver them by.
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