On average, employees attend 62 meetings every month. That's 744 opportunities to use your formal conference rooms and collaborate with colleagues each year. But considering how much of their workdays is spent in meetings, it's pretty alarming to know that employees find 50% of the ones they attend are unproductive.
Is it because people have been derailing your meetings?
You know the meeting personality types killing your meeting room productivity. There's the rambler who always goes off topic, the conversation dominator who always has a point to make, the pessimist who takes things off track by continually voicing their objections and interjecting with negativity, and others. It’s no surprise these derailers are a big reason your meetings tend to go on and on and on — but they are not the only reason. When meeting times aren’t set and followed, agendas aren’t sent out, people aren’t on the same page, the right meeting management tools aren’t used and the necessary people aren’t in attendance, it’s easy for meetings to quickly derail.
Follow our 5 ideas to improve your meetings and keep everyone focused and on the right track throughout the entire meeting.
Before you can hold a productive meeting, you need to lay out a few ground rules — things like starting and ending meetings on time, being on time to all meetings, being concise when you speak, and creating a time for handling questions and feedback, etc. Using a real-time messaging tool lets in-person or virtual attendees ask questions as they come up. This way they don’t forget their questions, but the presenter can wait to answer them at the proper time, preventing frequent verbal interruptions. Oftentimes a question someone has is answered in one of the following slides, so waiting rather than asking a question in the middle of the presentation allows attendees to still get their questions answered without having a stop-and-start style of meeting.
Create these norms as a company so everyone follows the same rules. When your marketing and sales departments meet, things will go a lot more smoothly if both groups share the same idea of how to run the meetings. Put these meeting norms in writing, maybe in a shared Google Doc where everyone has access to the document, or even posted inside your conference rooms, so new employees can review it when they start and others can quickly glance over it when needed.
And these rules can’t just fall on the meeting scheduler’s shoulders to enforce. This system works best when everyone is in complete agreement and can help enforce them. When they’ve helped create the rules, that shouldn't be a problem.
You can steer clear of derailment if every attendee knows the purpose of the meeting and what the topics of discussion are going to be. Send an agenda and any other helpful materials beforehand — and we’re not talking 10 minutes before the meeting. Also, when you list items on your meeting agenda, list them as questions to more clearly communicate the outcomes you want from each item, i.e. write “When will the marketing e-book be completed?” rather than “Discuss the e-book schedule".
You can even take it a step further by writing a name next to each discussion item to specify which attendee(s) will be sharing information, making a decision, or will be responsible for that specific item. Keep the meeting agenda and objectives visible throughout the meeting. You can use a screen sharing meeting platform so you know all in-person and remote workers are following along with the meeting and can see the agenda (which you’ve made visible on your screen).
You may send out a detailed meeting agenda, but everyone could have their own interpretation of what is “on track” in regards to the meeting purpose or topics. And then someone may bring up a point they feel is on track but to someone else, it’s totally off track.
The meeting scheduler needs to say at the beginning of the meeting what their understanding of the meeting is and then ask attendees if they agree or if they had a different understanding. Employees can also send an email or chat message to the scheduler to give feedback, ask questions and get clarifications after they’ve sent out the agenda. Your goal is to get specific opinions and feedback from attendees.
So again, we can’t stress enough the importance of sending your agenda out in advance so employees have sufficient time to review, think about and respond with any questions or concerns before the meeting starts.
If you want to help keep everyone on track, then you have to ensure everyone is ready to move down the track. Rather than just saying, “OK, moving on” or the meeting leader speaking their piece and jumping right to the next topic say, “I think we’ve discussed what needed to be discussed with this topic. But does anyone have anything else to add or concerns with this topic before we move on?”
Finding out that not everyone is ready to move on before moving on is going to save you time and keep your meeting on track. Otherwise, these people will bring up their unresolved issues and topics you thought were done during another topic, meaning you’ll spend more time than needed to get that topic finalized (again) and then regroup back to what you were discussing before.
And if you need to "circle back later" or "take the conversation offline" that's okay, too.
Ramblers, conversation hogs, and the tangent-prone — you’re likely to have one or all of these in your meetings at some point throughout the workweek. While you still want them to participate, if someone is talking too much, others won’t want to participate or may want to but have assumed they won’t be able to get a word in even if they tried.
You have to actively manage meeting disrupters by:
You don’t want anyone to feel like they’re wasting time in your meetings. And when you follow our 5 meeting management tips, you won’t. Instead of bumpily derailing off the track, you’ll have more productive and smoothly run meetings.
Teem's platform was built to solve meeting-related problems. That's why our conference room scheduling displays and other meeting scheduling tools make it easier to keep meetings running smoothly, whether you have two conference rooms or 2,000. And our employee experience solutions help organizations start their in-person meetings on time, every time.
And our tools are great for getting rid of those pesky Ghost and Zombie meetings — so if someone forgets to cancel their room reservation when a meeting gets cancelled, the system will take care of it automatically so someone else can book the room for their meetings. Ultimately, that saves your company a lot of time and money.
These days, it just makes sense to improve the employee experience and boost meeting productivity in your space. Check out our e-book for tips on engaging the modern workforce.