Meetings! Most people hate them and find them unproductive. That’s how Jeffrey Smith, a partner in Code Blue Innovations, a consultancy firm, felt. “We’ve been in a LOT of bad meetings. That’s why we created the smartphone app, Meeting Bomb. To make meetings more productive,” he says.
App or no app, there are things you can do to make your employees want to attend meetings.
It’s all in how you start. “At the start of a meeting, create opportunities for people to be curious to connect and collaborate. Being curious with others where people are present to absorb the comments of others, choosing to be open and non-judgmental in how they listen and asking open curious questions helps to build connection,” says Certified Executive Coach Kathy Taberner, co-founder of Institute of Curiosity and co-author of The Power of Curiosity: How to Have Real Conversations that Create Collaboration, Innovation and Understanding. “This is the way to start a meeting. Walking into a room and feeling that connection that makes us feel good and is a way to heighten engagement and collaboration during the meeting. This can be established by asking everyone to develop ground rules for the meeting or having the first item on the agenda be an open question which the leader/facilitator expects everyone to comment on and brainstorm on. It builds inclusion and collaboration.”
Make sure attendees are focused. “When people enter the room, ask them to turn off their mobile devices and leave them on a table by the door. Give them a ‘heads up’ when you set the agenda for the meeting so they know what is expected of them when they enter the room. Similarly, if participants are expected to ‘be present’, curious and contribute their ideas, laptops and pads should be turned off and put away,” says Taberner. “Meetings are about conversation and conversations require all participants to be present in the moment. Minutes of the meeting can be taken, or comments recorded so that all participants have a record of decisions and expectations within a short time of the meeting ending.”
Engage the meeting attendees. “Make it fun and engaging. People tune out quickly in boring meetings, so find ways to keep them engaged. Happy employees are more productive employees,” advises Smith. “Challenge every assumption in the meeting and keep the conversation lively and focused on moving the project forward.”
Keep it short and productive. “Set all meetings for 30 minutes. An hour is way too long. Most meetings can get a ton done in 30 minutes,” says Marc Gutman, Chief Meeting Officer at Lighthouse Conferencing.
Use technology to your advantage. “Use paid for remote meeting technology. Nothing is worse than losing 15 minutes of actual time and an hour of everyone’s mental time with back and forths of ‘I can’t hear you’ ‘Can you hear me know?’ ‘Bob, are you there?’, etc. The small cost is more than worth the saved time and headspace,” suggests Marc Gutman, Chief Meeting Officer at Lighthouse Conferencing.
And always, always start meetings on time and complete on time.