Love them or hate them, any business professional understands that a good meeting can be extremely valuable, so long as it’s efficient, goal-oriented, organized and interactive. Does this sound like a meeting you’ve attended? If not, it may be riddled with some of the common elements that make for a doomed meeting. Here are 7 factors that bring down enthusiasm and collaboration in meetings.
1. Don’t invite people who don’t need to be there
What’s worse than leaving a meeting thinking, none of that concerned me? Be thoughtful when sending meeting invitations. What is being addressed and who should be in the know? Conversely, be sure you’re also not leaving anyone of importance out.
2. Don’t avoid eye contact (even with remote employees)
If you’re packing a room with so many people that they’re straining to see the speaker or presentation, you’re creating a negative experience for those attendees. Structure the room so that everyone is seated and facing the speaker. The need to make eye contact holds true on both ends; it’s a sign of respect and attentiveness. If you have remote employees videoconferencing in, position the webcam in a so that they, too, are facing the speaker and can see the group.
3. Don’t use meetings as an opportunity to self-share, prove a point, or share general information
According to Forbes contributor Christine Comaford, the above three means of communication lead to ineffective meetings because they don’t lead to positive action. The most effective means of communication are promises and requests, with a small window for decision-making and constructive debating. This way, you’re creating accountability for yourself and others that you can use to measure productivity at the next meeting. Did you fulfill your promise? Did they fulfill theirs?
4. Don’t depend on your laptop
While bringing a laptop may be necessary for a presentation or note-taking, it’s important to limit its use in order to be present. If you’re the one leading the presentation, share your screen onto a projector or TV rather than having every meeting attendee on their laptops watching the same screen. Other than appearing disengaged, it can also lead to easy distractions, such as checking emails. On that note, discourage the use of cell phones, too.
5. Don’t hold a meeting on the spot
While there’s something to be said for spontaneous brainstorm, you’re potentially going to anger your team by throwing a wrench in their day with an impromptu meeting. You may be overlapping other meetings, phone calls, or gathering the group while some are out of the office. Attendees should always have time to prepare for a meeting, even if it’s only a few hours advance notice.
6. Don’t schedule meetings too early or too late in the day
An early meeting can be a good thing; energy is up, ideas are flowing, and it sets the pace for the rest of the day. But give enough time for your team to get in, have coffee, catch up on emails, and gather their notes for the meeting. There are no perks to a late meeting. Most people are trying to tie up loose ends before the workday is done, and they’re operating at their lowest level of productivity.
7. Don’t rehash items from the last meeting
Meetings should happen regularly, ideally on the same day at the same time so that expectations are set. One person should be in charge of recording the action items and plans addressed in each meeting so that the next meeting can pick up where the former left off. Reiterating the last meeting’s points is redundant and will quickly lose the interest of the team.