Make the Most of Your Meetings

The verdict is in! Most meetings are ineffective. This post will share tips on how to make your meetings more effective.

Some interesting meeting stats:

  • Professionals lose 31 hours per month to unproductive meetings.
  • Professionals who meet on a regular basis: 96% admit to missing meetings, 95% miss parts of meetings, 91% daydream, 73% have brought other work to meetings and 39% have dozed during meetings.
  • > $37 billion is spent on unproductive meetings.
  • Executives consider 67% of meetings to be failures.
  • Middle managers spend 35% of their time in meetings.
  • Upper management spend 50% of their time in meetings.
  • People spend 4 hours/week preparing for status update meetings.

Why Meetings are Unproductive

  • 92% multitask during meetings.
  • 69% check email.
  • Remote participants aren’t engaged.
  • Lack of planning.

Meeting Killers

It is not the soul responsibility of the meeting host/chair or manager to make the meeting effective, everyone has a role to make meetings better. Hosts/chairs or managers play a major role in facilitating a meeting, but there are several things that can make a meeting ineffective like rude behaviour, conflict, those that dominate the meeting, and non participation by others.      

Rude Behaviour

This includes interrupting others, making inappropriate comments, yelling, making faces, snide comments, or other unprofessional behaviours. People with rude behaviour make the meeting uncomfortable for everyone and end up diminishing their own credibility.

How to Manage

By the Manager or Meeting Host/Chair

Set standards for meetings, for example,

  • Start meetings on time. When latecomers arrive, indicate that you will bring them up to date on what they missed later on. Going over the material that has already been discussed is a waste of time and disrespectful to those who came on time.
  • Redirect complaining behaviour to problem solving behaviour.
  • Remind the offender at the meeting that respectful behaviour is expected at all times in the workplace. For example, talking over or interrupting others is not acceptable behaviour. Intervene when there is rude behaviour, discuss the rude behaviour with the person after the meeting privately and explain what the consequences of continued rude behaviour will be in the future, such as, education on professional behaviour, mentoring, strategies to improve meeting performance and behaviour and potential removal from the meeting.

By Participants

  • Participants should feel safe enough to speak up when they see problem behaviors to remind others of the ground rules.

Those Who Stir up Conflict: 

These are people who personally attack others at a meeting under the guise of “its not personal.” These individuals make a concerted effort to discredit others in an aggressive and non-productive way. This is a form of bullying.

How to Manage

By the Manager or Meeting Host/Chair

  • The bully needs to be reminded that they must abide by the meeting standards , which include respectful behaviour at all times in the workplace. If the rude behaviour continues, follow up with consequences.
  • If the conflict continues the host should stop the meeting, take a break, or call the meeting to an end. The manager or meeting host should take the opportunity to address the behaviour with the person privately and make the bully aware of the consequences of continued inappropriate behaviour, and explain what the consequences of continued bullying behaviour will be in the future, such as, education on professional behaviour, anger management, mentoring, strategies to improve meeting performance and behaviour and potential removal from the meeting.

Watching someone be a target of a bully in a meeting is unacceptable.

By the individual being bullied

  • The person being bullied in a meeting does not need to sit through this harassing behaviour. They can calmly and politely excuse themselves and state that they are willing to continue discussing items at a later time in a respectful manner.
  • The person being bullied can directly address the bullying behaviour with the bully privately and indicate what behaviour they expect from them going forward. If the behaviour continues, they make a formal complaint with the supervisor or meeting  Chair and ask the behaviour be addressed as this is a form of harassment.

The Meeting Dominator

This person does not allow others to participate because they don’t stop talking. They have something to say about everything in the meeting. At times it is difficult to interrupt the dominator because they don’t seem to take a breath.

How to Manage:

  • Set a meeting standard that states that a person making a point should make it within two minutes and the point should be relevant to the discussion.
  • Accept comments from the dominator but don’t yield the floor. Examples: “That’s an interesting idea. Others?” Acknowledge the comments with eye contact, a smile, nod, or other body language.
  • State that you are going hold that person’s comments while you hear from others. Ask others to comment.
  • Sometimes you have no choice but to interrupt because the dominator has hijacked the meeting. Ask a question pertaining to what was said, but open it up to everyone to comment. This will allow you to regain control of the meeting.
  • Keep the meeting on track and call people (by name) back to the item being discussed.  Calling out a person’s name puts him/her on the spot in a gentle way to relinquish the floor.

The Unengaged Participant

This person says very little if anything at meetings and does not contribute to the effectiveness of meetings.  They may be introverts, they may be disinterested in being there, or they may be new and not familiar with the topic or content. After a while though, there is an expectation that everyone contribute to the meeting by being an active participant.

How to Manage

By the Manager or Meeting Host/Chair

  • Give the unengaged participant a role in the meeting, to take notes, be a timekeeper or host, to have them be actively involved.
  • Bring others into a discussion intentionally by calling them by name. “Julia, what do you think about X?”

More Tips for Effective Meetings:

Before you call a meeting, consider whether a meeting is necessary or if an email will do. If you decide to have one:

  • Limit the number of standards/ground rules for meeting to five or less.
  • Give permission to attendees to hold each other accountable.
  • Only invite those that are necessary to meet the objective.
  • Have shorter meetings (30 minutes). After 30 minutes you start to lose people.
  • Have a clear purpose for the meeting. State what is expected from the meeting. Go over ground rules if necessary.
  • Send out meeting materials in advance including an agenda, with assigned speakers for the topics and assign roles chair/host, notes taker, timekeeper. Identify what the decision process is for each agenda item such as informing about the topic, developing an implementation plan, consultation for options, voting on a decision, or obtaining consensus.
  • Have someone take notes of key points and action items and send out after the meeting. Each item should have an action plan with a deadline and designated person.
  • Avoid the never-ending deferral of an item. If it is constantly being deferred scrap it, its obviously not important and note that it has been removed as an item.
  • Summarize decision points and follow up at the end of the meeting.

Published by Diane Allen

Hi there, my name is Diane and welcome to my blog site! Leadership mindset is the mindset that embraces, vision, courage and action.

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