Why No One Wants to Go to Your Meeting — And How to Make it Better

If you wrote a better agenda, these seats would be full. (Photo: Freeimages.com)

It’s not uncommon to hear a collective groan from your employees when another meeting alert pops up on their calendars.

After 10 years in the professional world at every level from assistant to Vice President, I’ve learned firsthand just how much impact a meeting can make.

We hope our team leaves a meeting excited, inspired and ready to work, but I’ve also sat through meetings where an associate actually fell asleep on their laptop. Not good.

It can be taxing having to step away from daily tasks, but more importantly, badly run meetings can severely hamper productivity.

After years of being over scheduled myself, I’ve learned a few tips to help make meetings and check-ins smarter and productive — not just an hour wasted during the work day.

Be Selective

One of the biggest pain points of meetings is that there’s simply too many people in them. Invite only the crucial members of each team, the ones who truly need to be there. If a key team member is unable to make the meeting, let them designate an assistant or an associate to take notes on their behalf. Don’t invite the entire office or full teams unless it’s imperative to the task at hand. All too often meetings can start to feel like attending a lecture class in college, and it can actually lessen the effect of full office or full team meetings down the line.

An Hour… is Probably More Time Than You Need 

We’ve all witnessed a meeting being needlessly expanded in time in order for the people up top to feel as though they’re proving their worth. A meeting that could have been wrapped up in 20 or 30 minutes but instead drags on for an hour. Management’s role is often to be in the majority of meetings throughout the day, but your team needs to spend as much time as possible working, so be respectful of the time it takes to step away from a task to join a meeting.

If a meeting will take an hour or more, be sure to let your team know that it will take the full amount of time scheduled, so they can properly prepare to step away from daily tasks for that length or time. Otherwise, keep it as short as you can.

Get to the Point 

Meetings are not Scandal recaps where employees pour over every single detail that has happened previously before getting the ball rolling. Get the point of the meeting across quickly — and early on — and then move into the discussion. You’ll save precious time and keep attention fresh.

Set Agendas. Follow Up. Act Quickly.

A disorganized meeting can frustrate team members, and is almost guaranteed to accomplish nothing. Have a set agenda and stick to it so you don’t get sidetracked. If a question is slightly off topic, let the employee know you’re happy to address it after that meeting. If the conversation is veering off to an unrelated topic, politely tell the team that another discussion can be scheduled to address said topic, but that right now, you need to stick with the current meetings agenda.

After the meeting is over, don’t wait a day — or even an hour — to make sure follow-ups with next steps are sent to all members who attended. Send action items within 15-20 minutes of the meetings conclusion, and build that time into your schedule so that it doesn’t fall by the wayside. Be sure that it’s outlined clearly to everyone what is expected of them at the close of the meeting.

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