While meetings may be important opportunities for managers and staff to communicate, it seems that companies often don’t fully utilize them. A recent study by Meeting King found that around 40 percent of work time is spent in meetings, and around 25-50 percent of time is wasted, which means that, at worst, employees could be spending up to a day in ineffective meetings each week. What they also found was a correlation between time spent in meetings and feelings of exhaustion and increased workload, which could be demotivational.
It’s not that we should throw out meetings, as the study found that 92 percent of us value meetings as an opportunity for communication. Rather, it’s that meetings tend to be missed opportunities. It doesn’t have to be this way, and I have outlined five tips to breathe life back into your meetings.
1. Make Them Shorter
This SalesCrunch study shows that attendee attention levels begin to severely drop off after about 30 minutes, meaning people are getting bored. In the first 15 minutes employees are 91 percent attentive, and this drops to 64 percent attentiveness after 45 minutes. A simple way to reinvigorate your meetings is to keep them to 30 minutes maximum.
2. Chaired Agenda
Preparing and sticking to an agenda can seem quite constrictive for many a meeting leader, who may feel it cramps their style. On the flip side, both this Give More study and the aforementioned Meeting King study found that most people find it frustrating when there is no chaired agenda. Make properly chaired agendas with action points/takeaways sacrosanct, and this will help boost meeting engagement levels.
3. Stand-Up Meetings
There are obvious health benefits to holding stand-up meetings instead of slumping in a chair for an hour, but standing up can also reinvigorate your meetings. Stand-up meetings are typically shorter — generally clocking in at about 15 minutes — so they operate within the prime 91 percent attention level. This keeps the meeting focused, and it can help to eradicate distractions. You can hold a succession of three or four short, more efficient, high engagement meetings in a week, rather than a single, draining two-hour slog.
4. Change the Location
Have you heard of the phenomenon known as Sick Building Syndrome, where people have sick symptoms related to a workplace, but no identifiable cause? These symptoms include aches and pains, fatigue, and poor concentration, none of which will be conducive to your meetings. Once the SBS sufferers leave the building or room, the symptoms disapear. Why not change your meeting location from time to time. Perhaps hold a meeting outside if it’s a sunny day, or at the canteen, a local coffee shop, or any place that’s a little different from the norm to beat SBS and reinvigorate a stale meeting environment.
5. Add Some Humor to Your Meetings
One of the best ways to liven up a dull meeting is to inject some genuine fun, levity, and humor. Try and set a fun, lighthearted tone at the beginning of the meeting, and encourage funny employees. Their jokes can help to reduce tension and add some levity to dire proceedings, making the whole meeting more fun. Those kind of employees can lift environments and meetings with a joke, and they are a gift to your meeting.
I’d love to hear what suggestions you may have to breathe life back into your meetings.