Sitting on a hard, plastic chair in the overly warm/chilled conference room, your eyes slowly drying up as you try to focus on the presentation in front of you, your brain drifting into wistful thoughts of the upcoming weekend…we’ve all been there. Hell hath no fury like the tedium of a pointless meeting.
Meetings have a bad reputation as being necessary evils of the business world. The people moaning about their last meeting far outnumber those celebrating a successful one – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Chances are, if you feel like your meetings are a waste of time, they probably are because you’re doing them wrong.
Follow these simple tips to make your meetings more productive, efficient and enjoyable.
For most of us, a typical work day – including meetings – involves a lot of sitting. But this may not be the best way to foster creativity. Andrew Knight and Markus Baer of Washington University conducted research into the effect of sitting versus standing during a meeting, and they came to the conclusion that standing ‘had greater physiological arousal and less idea territoriality.’ Basically, standing up led to an increase in productivity and idea sharing.
Pull a Google
It will come as no surprise that Google are pros at holding meetings. Marissa Mayer, vice-president of search products, holds on average 70 meetings a week – with that amount, there’s no time to waste. She requests an agenda in advance on what participants want to discuss during the meeting. Although many might see this as a time waster in itself, sitting down and actually thinking through what you want to cover and how best to achieve your goals will help everyone stay on track.
Ditch the laptops
Where possible, take notes by hand. In a study by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer that studied the note-taking habits of Princeton and UCLA students, they found that those who wrote their notes down by hand did significantly better on understanding concepts than those who typed their notes on a laptop.
Have a leader
No matter what kind of meeting you’re having – quick catch-up, brainstorm, progress evaluation – make sure there is a clear leader. Google’s former CEO and current chair Eric Schmidt and former SVP of products Jonathan Rosenberg write in their book ‘How Google Works’: ‘A meeting between two groups of equals often doesn’t result in a good outcome, because you end up compromising rather than making the best tough decisions.’ So make sure you have someone assigned to have the final say, and you’ll stay on track.
Make them fun
A happy team is a productive one. Boost morale by beginning the meeting on a positive note: have everyone share a funny joke they heard, or talk about something they achieved last week. In the interest of time, allot ten extra minutes or so for socialising – that way, it won’t cut into the actual meeting itself.
Gemma Falconer is a member of the Demand Generation team at Citrix and GoToMeeting, a cloud computing company that enables mobile workstyles. She has been using collaboration tools/video conferencing/online meetings for the past 6 years and splits her working time between the office and home. Having experienced the flexibility and various advantages of using such technology, Gemma would love for employers to seriously consider offering collaboration tools and flexible working for their employees so they too can truly benefit. Gemma is a mother, keen volleyball player and writer. Find her on Twitter on LinkedIn.’