Most surveys reveal that employees and managers alike consider meetings boring time wasters. Yet, we know that a culture of communication is imperative to achieve your company's goals and vision. And, we know that face-to-face communication is most constructive. The answer is not to ban meetings altogether; it's to make them more engaging and beneficial

What makes your meeting a fail?

  • Participant engagement is essential; boring topics and a single person doing all of the talking does not invite others to engage. 
  • Most people admit to multitasking in meetings, but it sends a message of disinterest, which spreads like a loud yawn. 
  • Meetings with boring content and are longer than necessary.
  • Going off-topic.
  • When someone monopolizes the conversation and drives his/her point home over and over again. 

How to nail it in your next meeting.

  • Ask yourself if a meeting is necessary and invite only those who need to be there. 
  • Send an agenda ahead of time, along with questions that are up for discussion. 
  • Ban the use of devices during the meeting. 
  • Don't wait for the lead person to show up, because it's usually that person who runs behind schedule. Is this you? Appoint someone to begin the meeting and start right on time.
  • Start your meeting with an icebreaker. This may seem counterproductive in terms of keeping your meeting on point and on time, but it increases engagement. I have a client who brings a lightweight ball to her meetings and starts each one by having each team member announce a win. Something they've accomplished, are grateful for, or looking forward to. The person speaking randomly tosses the ball to someone else in the group and it becomes their turn to talk. Keep it short: 30 to 60 seconds for each person. 
  • Avoid small talk. There's no need to talk about the weather, your child's little league team, or what you had for breakfast. Let it be known that employees can arrive a few minutes early or stick around a bit longer to connect on an informal note if they wish. 
  • If you have remote attendees, or your meeting is entirely virtual, use video technology. Surveys show that the use of video decreases multitasking and increases engagement.
  • Assign others to lead some of the discussion. We tend to tune out after one person is speaking for a long time. A new voice reboots our interest. 
  • Use visuals, like a whiteboard, where appropriate. The majority of the population has a visual learning style, so the use of a whiteboard helps attendees to absorb information better. (Avoid long, unnecessary slide presentations.)  
  • Some personality types will rarely if ever, speak up in meetings. Rather than put them on the spot, send challenges and questions in advance. This process allows them to think about their suggestions and to be prepared to talk about them. Or, they can post or send their comments in writing ahead of time. 
  • End your meeting on an inspirational, motivational, or humorous note. Send your people out the door feeling energized and with a smile on their face.

To add a bit more fun and unpredictability, surprise your team with a new location or a fun activity at your meetings. Walk to a nearby park, take them out for a meal, or hire an event planner to add an unexpected twist to the occasional meeting. Your time and effort will pay off through increased productivity and engagement. Happy employees keep any company humming along.