Meetings: How to make them meaningful and productive

How to avoid pointless workplace meetings

As either a boss or employee, how many meetings truly achieve what you want them to? Do the meetings you attend always start on time and have a clear and achievable agenda?

Have you ever tried to equate how much time, on average, you spend in meetings, or how much that time spent is costing the business? It is often the case that meetings are arranged with little or no thought to the time and money they consume. It’s important then, that meetings have a purpose and ultimately achieve something.

Even if you’re just quickly catching up with a colleague, meetings should have some sort of agenda and look to achieve a goal. Often the main difficulty is ensuring that the meeting remains on-topic without being overtaken by other issues thus rendering the get together pointless.

So, how do you set about having meetings that serve a purpose, are focused and will keep the attention of the invitees?

  • Have a clear objective – There must be a reason for the meeting to take place in the first place. Establish what needs to be resolved and make sure that everyone who needs to be there is invited and can attend.
  • Set an agenda – Make sure there is a clear, defined agenda and that people attending the meeting know about it advance. It will give them a chance to identify which areas apply to them and give them an opportunity to prepare and research if necessary.
  • Make sure someone is in control – All meetings need someone to control the flow of discussion and make sure that the salient points are addressed. Whoever is taking the meeting can ensure that everyone gets their say and direct questions to the right people at key moments, offering equal exposure to both the most dominant and passive of attendees.
  • Take minutes – Accurate minutes are vital for any meeting that has tasks emanating from it or responsibility taken for moving the subject to the next stage. Minutes should then be circulated amongst attendees and also to anyone offering apologies. The Minutes provide a record for people to check on what was said and act as a reminder to those with jobs to follow up on in the aftermath.
  • Maintain eye contact – Having everyone in the same room means that body language and facial expressions can all be taken into account throughout proceedings. Ideally you’ll be able to get everyone together at the same location but if this isn’t possible, online meeting tools that incorporate some sort of video for those participating remotely are best. Conference calls serve a purpose but can also incorporate many of the features that contribute to a bad meeting – a lack of non-verbal communication, distractions and background noise.

The tips above represent just a few basic pointers to ensure meetings have focus and worth. There are however, other methods you can use to turn your meeting into an event or attempt to move things along quickly.

Some alternative suggestions include –

  • Have afternoon meetings with chocolate – At a time of the day when the brain is starting to tire some managers elect to hold meetings that include another stimulant or incentive. Of course distraction would need to be managed but for creating a feel good vibe and enticing people to loosen up and talk freely this sort of approach can work.
  • Schedule breaks – Particularly if you know in advance that a meeting may take some time, scheduling breaks when people can get a drink, use the toilet, check emails or make a call is a good idea. Letting people know about the scheduled times for breaks in advance will go some way to circumventing those people who think they can check their phone under the desk without being noticed. But whatever you do the likelihood is that there will still be one!
  • No chairs – One recent study suggested that in meetings where people stood throughout it took 34% less time to reach a decision than where people were sitting down. Resolutions made standing up proved just as good as those made when seated too!

We can’t offer a suggestion as to how our call logging and recording software can help make your meetings more meaningful but the logging system might at least give an idea of how many calls are lost whilst the meeting is taking place. If nothing else it might provide a good meter as to how long meetings should last and further highlight the need for clear and precise goal setting.

If you’d like to find out more about call recording or call logging software please don’t hesitate to give us a call; we’d be happy to tell you everything we know – which happens to be rather a lot! Drop us a line on 0333 0022 440, or contact us. We’re here ready to help

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