Unproductive meetings waste $37 billion a year. So how can you make sure your business isn’t contributing to this statistic?
Now more than ever, business meetings have to be productive. With upper management spending 50% of their time in meetings and 15% of an organisation’s collective time spent on them, it’s worth getting them right.
In this day and age, meetings aren’t guaranteed to be held in person. In fact, the person you’re meeting could be sitting on the other side of the globe, clicking that scheduled meeting link in their calendar and hoping their Wi-Fi connection is strong enough.
Here are our five top practices for ensuring efficient team meetings.
The hallmark of a good meeting is an agenda, set out before the meeting begins. Nowadays, we can schedule meetings in calendars with added information - this is where a rough agenda can go. It can even include objectives or expectations so participants know what exactly they’ll be focusing on and what ideas to bring to the proverbial table.
Remember, when an agenda is designed, it needs a facilitator to keep things on track. This will most likely be the person who called the meeting, but it can be a role assigned to anyone. In fact, impartiality in relation to the meeting agenda might actually help keep things ticking along, as the meeting organiser might find reason to discuss one item for more time than is allocated.
When thinking about agendas, remember to consider:
Did you know that more than 50% of current employees would like to see their businesses become more inclusive?
A common issue that faces efficient team meetings is inclusivity. This is a problem, as meetings are the focal points in which both culture and innovation grow and mix - two things every successful business needs.
Now, inclusivity can have multiple definitions here, but they’re all good to meet. We can define inclusivity within meetings as:
Inclusivity is also present in the practices that help a meeting go on. These could include:
In all, inclusivity and diversity is an advantage. Companies that have above-average diversity in terms of gender and engagement outperform those without by 46% to 58%. These same benefits can be seen in meeting rooms when inclusivity is championed.
A 2018 study into conversations discovered that, on average, participants only remember up to 20% of the ideas expressed in a conversation. This means that meeting groups could be forgetting up to 80% of what was covered after a short time.
So how do you guarantee that not only ideas are remembered better, but people are more present within the conversation? At this point, if you’re following our guidance, the agenda is set and the meeting is accessible, even to those invited from further afield.
To circumvent the problems of memory, there’s another key practice to maintain - active listening.
So how do you encourage active listening?
Video conferencing can actually be a really good way of ensuring active listening. You can see all participants simultaneously, share screens in order to physically see in real-time what someone is talking through and can easily identify who is talking due to the speaker usually being highlighted when producing noise. Simple interface choices like this really help us to focus.
Efficient team meetings depend on the ability to communicate and share information. This can be a little more difficult when participants are either working remotely or located in another country. However, with the right technology, no one will have a hard time during meetings, unable to either join because of distance or see the documents people are referring to.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, video conferencing software really came into its own, allowing distanced teams to still meet and even socialise. Free tools like Skype have helped and conferencing-enabled software specifically designed for businesses in mind, such as Microsoft Teams, have been the perfect companions for organisations split up over distances.
The kind of solutions that allow businesses to share files and collaborate during meetings are the ones needed right night now. These should be device-agnostic - accessible through any cloud-enabled device, such as laptops or smartphones.
Similarly, for those employees who find themselves away from their laptops, many communication platforms will allow access to audio or video conferences through smartphones.
Hopefully, meeting leaders will be able to implement the previous four practices and the meeting has run efficiently, but it’s not over yet. The effects of a well-run meeting will be felt internally, which should be supported by the strategic next steps that help maintain that momentum.
At this point you can:
You can also ask for feedback at the end of meetings to gauge how they went and improve on any issues that were felt by participants.
Now, communicating the next steps ensures better alignment across your business. What is alignment? It is when everyone is on the same page about a certain issue, idea or project and knows the next steps they have to take in solving or implementing it. Alignment is an important thing to achieve in a business setting, securing:
Running efficient team meetings depends on these five practices: agendas, inclusivity, active listening, post-meeting steps - and the right technology. In fact, meetings and software choices are just two parts of your business-wide communication strategies. In today’s business climate, these strategies depend on centralisation.
In this year and in the future, it will be important to review your communication strategies and centralise those strategies where possible. Through this, you can identify issues and opportunities with your existing technology and come up with solutions.
To find out more about centralising your communications, download our guide by clicking the button below. Inside, we’ve covered why it’s important to improve business communications to capture both staff and customer benefits - and potentially increase revenue.
Explore our managed services, IT implementations and the sectors that we work with to see how our services can help you adapt to these cultural changes.
From infrastructure to security, innovation to consultancy, we digitally enhance your workplace and help you keep up with the cultural changes in business. To get your copy and read all about our services in more depth and how they can keep you ahead of the competition, click below