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Do you ever find yourself in an unproductive meeting? According to some recent studies, about 15% of a company’s time is dedicated to meetings. Gallup says unproductive meetings cost U.S. businesses as estimated $37 billion per year.

Unproductive meetings waste money, your time, and your organization’s time, so why do we spend so much time in unproductive meetings? Could it be because very few people have been trained on how to conduct effective meetings?

A Muse article says there are 3 major causes of unproductive meetings:

1. Multitasking.

  • 92% of survey respondents confessed to multitasking during meetings
  • 69% admitted to checking email
  • 41% admitted to multitasking during meetings “often” or “all the time”
  • 49% admitted to doing other, unrelated work

2. Remote participants aren’t being engaged.

It can be hard for remote participants to follow along, stay engaged and feel like they are contributing. Did you know that 80% of messages that we receive come from body language? This is definitely hard to pick up on over the phone. A video meeting software like Zoom or Go to Meeting are great for meetings, as remote participants can see others in the meeting, and you can see them! Video calls can improve focus and engagement, enhance decision making, and increase team productivity.

3. Lack of planning/structure of meetings.

Creating and planning an effective meeting is a skill that can be learned! More companies should invest in improving meeting effectiveness.

Meetings are intended to be an engine of productivity in the workplace and are a way for people to get together and discuss ideas, issues, solve problems and create outcomes.

The big question is how do you conduct better meetings?

Here are 10 tips to get you started:

  1. Set clear expectations. . Did you know that research shows that the most effective meetings are ones where the objectives are clear? When the expectations are clear, meeting attendees can come in better prepared and are more likely to be engaged during the meeting.
  2. Send the agenda and preparation materials in advance. Even a basic agenda shared in advance with any relevant documents can help keep everyone on track.
  3. Start and end on time. There is nothing worse than starting a meeting late and leaving later! You might also think about leaving some “buffer” time in-between bookings. We often forget about how long it takes to walk between offices or maybe that we wanted to top off our coffee before the meeting. Building in a few extra minutes can help avoid a late meeting start time.
  4. Stay focused. When those random good thoughts and ideas come up that are off topic, make a note to discuss this at another time. Also, it might be good to enlist or designate a timekeeper and a note taker. Tell them to let you know when the discussion runs long or give them the authority to politely intervene.
  5. No latecomers allowed. . Do you have lots of people who show up late to meetings? There is nothing that disrupts the flow of a meeting like a person who comes in late, takes a few noisy minutes to settle in, and then might even ask for an “update.” You might need to make it clear beforehand that latecomers aren’t welcome.
  6. Try a change of scenery. Walking meetings for one-on-one meetings can be a benefit for participants’ health and may also reduce the time needed. Did you know that walking also helps creativity, according to a recent Stanford study? Also, plenty of big thinkers love walking meetings – in fact, they were Steve Jobs’ preferred method of conversation.
  7. Put a cap on the meeting size, if you can. You might even think about allowing employees the right to decline their attendance without penalty.
  8. Provide some entertainment. Maybe prepare a team-building activity to break up a dull topic or for a break in the middle of the meeting.
  9. Eliminate distracting electronic devices. When employees bring laptops, smartphones, and other devices to meetings, they force whoever is holding the discussion to compete for their attention. If you ask attendees not to bring any electronic devices into the meeting, this distraction can be eliminated.
  10. Follow up after the meeting. It is always a good idea to compile the meeting’s notes into action items and distribute them to everyone who attended. You can even appoint someone to keep track of who’s responsible for doing what and by when. This helps people understand that the end of the meeting signals the start of taking action.

Gallup says,

  • “Effective meetings can boost productivity, employee morale and profits.”
  • “If you want people leaving the conference room fired up by an idea or excited to work toward a goal, satisfaction is not enough. You need people to be engaged.”
  • “Giving people a platform for their opinion pays off. It shows an employee that his or her opinion counts, and you might drum up some useful input.”

Meetings aren’t the place to wing it and hope for the best. Advance preparation is likely to encourage a new level of enthusiasm among employees and get results!

Do you want to learn more information about how to conduct a meeting that people want to attend? Listen to our JoyPowered® Podcast episode on Meeting Skills, or contact us to learn more about our “The Art of Effective and Efficient Meetings” training.

Kira Witt
Kira Witt
Kira is a consultant with Purple Ink. She finds joy in getting to meet new people, hearing others’ experiences, and discovering others’ needs.

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