Boring Meetings? 3 Ways to Improve Them

Boring meetings can zap productivity, waste time and drain employee energy— and they're all too common. If you regularly hold stakeholder meetings with the five most senior employees and they run one to two hours, these meetings are costing in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. And if everyone is bored, they're probably not generating the return on investment you really need from a long, costly meeting, suggests Forbes.

Try these strategies for making meetings more enjoyable.

1. Know What the Meeting's About— And Stay on Track

This sounds simple, but is a commonly overlooked strategy for making meetings more successful. Let's say your development department convenes a meeting to discuss the annual fundraiser. They even send out a memo noting the meeting topic and perhaps asking everyone attending to come up with one suggestion. But development doesn't provide additional information on the previous or upcoming event that can help employees contribute, and they don't make a public meeting agenda. At the meeting, employees individually wonder why they are there. After all, they're not on the development team. How can their suggestions help? Eyes glaze over. Avoid this meeting-killer by clearly defining who needs to attend a meeting. Hint: not everyone. Define what outcomes are and what information should be provided beforehand to make the meeting successful.

2. Keep Meetings Brief

Many meetings stretch on for too long when the facilitator hasn't prioritized content and allows employees to talk at will. While employees should be allowed to talk freely, they turn deadly when a team member who likes to hear the sound of his voice isn't kept in check. Prepare a meeting agenda that can shorten long meetings. Note the topics to be discussed, the owner or stakeholder of those topics, the "why" or the goal of discussing the topic and the amount of time to dedicate to the topic. For example, department managers have a meeting with IT to review different CRM options. To keep the meeting short, the IT manager might provide beforehand a geek-free guide to the pros, cons and costs of each CRM, state a goal of selecting 2-3 products to trial, set a 10-minute time frame for discussion of each and facilitate discussion so all can offer thoughts. The fast pace and time limit will keep employees engaged. GoDaddy's Bob Parsons revealed in Inc. that he keeps meetings and other work extremely focused. Executive Parsons also leaves the office every night by 6:00 or 7:00 p.m., as just one example of how remaining focused can enhance productivity at work.

3. Brainstorm

When you need to generate ideas (for example, if doing a SWOT analysis in strategic planning) don't forget the power of the simple brainstorm. Have every team member brainstorm on strengths and weaknesses for a couple minutes, keeping the room silent. Then have everyone read ideas. In a few short minutes, you'll have uncovered trends that can guide discussion— without wasting time.


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