A new study, The Meetings Psychology Study commissioned by Radisson Blu hotels has revealed that almost half of us (43%) leave most meetings feeling they were pointless.
We can all relate to spending time in pointless meetings that are too long and unstructured, so how can companies make their meetings more productive?
Not all meetings are a waste of time and while many companies now use video conferencing to negate the need for travel, the Meetings Psychology Study concludes that face to face meetings can be more productive.
Its research found that when face to face meetings take place in what it calls an ‘enhanced’ meeting room - an environment that offers walls to write on, stimulating colours and flexible furniture layout – the ideas generated produced a return on investment that was 61% higher than a video conference call.
Meetings connect people, bringing them together to share ideas. But for them to be productive they must be well managed – with a clear agenda and a time limit. They should last around 30 minutes, and certainly no more than an hour.
A recent survey from Wisembly found that UK office workers attend an average of 5.6 meetings every week costing companies £1,400 per employee every year. If these meetings are unproductive that’s a lot of wasted time and money.
As well as sticking to an agenda and staying focused, training people to have effective chairing skills can also improve the quality of meetings – good chairing leads to good decision making, good time keeping and the inclusion of the views of everyone present.
To keep everyone’s attention it is essential to ban mobile phones and tablets at meetings as people can’t remain attentive if they are constantly looking at their phone. At best they will be giving 50% of their attention, often missing the key points of the meeting, making it a waste of time.
Here are my ten tips on making meetings more productive:
1. What do you want to achieve at the meeting? Make sure that every meeting has an objective and that you achieve that outcome
2. Every meeting should have an agenda which must be adhered to
3. Stand up - research has shown that getting rid of chairs in meetings allows people to be more creative, gets the energy flowing and keeps people more focused
4. Send every participant the meeting agenda in advance so they know what is expected of them
5. Set a time limit. Most meetings should be contained within an hour. No meeting should go over three hours, if it does it needs serious justification
6. Be positive - focus on results, decisions and solutions, not problems
7. At the beginning of each meeting appoint someone as chair whose role will be to keep everyone on topic
8. Make sure you arrive on time to set a good example to everyone else
9. Ensure you invite the right people – only decision makers and those that can help achieve the objective of the meeting need to be there
10. Follow up any meeting with key actions and deadlines and ensure that meeting attendees are kept updated on the progress of these
By Stephen Archer, Business Analyst and Director, Spring Partnerships, specialists in the sales, marketing, communications, brand, leadership development and employee engagement to organisations seeking change to higher performance.