Meetings can be an excellent form of procrastination. It’s true.
It gets bad, especially, when we start to convince ourselves that going to meetings is the same as doing work.
And since meetings beget meetings, more wasted time goes by as everyone's calendars start filling up.
Here’s our list of the main culprits contributing to unproductive and ineffective meetings:
1. Lack of purpose
Riding the never-ending meeting “train” is pretty much the result of unclear goals and outcomes. Something that should be important turns into impromptu hallway conversations and get-togethers that end up nowhere. This approach works great if the goal is to pass time. But if you want true productivity, then you need to break this procrastination habit and focus on what truly matters.
2. Inviting the wrong people
Even if you have a clear purpose for your meeting, if the wrong people are in the room, then what you need to get done likely won't get accomplished. Getting participation from the right team is critical to getting your desired outcome. Make sure to prepare before scheduling a meeting so you aren't wasting anyone's time.
3. Lack of listening
Meetings can still take a turn for the worse and accomplish nothing if opposing egos are involved. When it’s clear no-one is listening to you (or anyone else in the room), the feeling of disrespect can permeate the entire meeting. It gets really bad, however, in a hostile environment if a team member would rather 'establish dominance' than simply collaborate. It's important that everyone’s listens and shows respect at all times.
4. Focus on collaboration
When people feel threatened, or insecure for that matter, they often get defensive. And sometimes, they'll even attack the person who they feel is talking down to them. This is no good if you want to have a productive meeting. When you focus on collaborative problem solving, you can really push your overall agenda (without stepping on anyone's toes). After all, we’re ultimately on the same team.
5. Not preparing properly
Design the perfect meeting by envisioning the type of environment you need to prosper. Think about the topics to discuss, the tasks that need to be worked on, and the people you need there. All of this helps when trying to achieve a goal. The last thing you want to do is set up a meeting without clearly articulating the purpose and desired outcome as well as providing a clear agenda. As the saying goes, 'if you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.'
6. No-one to steer the ship
You may not be a world-class facilitator, but when you have a meeting, those are the shoes you need to fill. In the first couple of minutes, you will either fully engage your team or show them that this meeting is a huge waste of time. Take charge and steer the ship. If you don't, be ready for the ship to sink.
7. Be careful of Groupthink
Avoid groupthink at all costs. You want people to express their own individual thoughts and opinions, not suppress them. Make sure you encourage them to write down questions and proceed by having them ask the questions at the appropriate time. The more you hear from each member, the better. You want real input and real team collaboration at the end of the day.
8. Lack of clear actionable outcomes
Do not leave the meeting without action items. Always make sure that you finish strong. Never end a meeting without action items for each individual in the room. In fact, each action item should be specific, measurable, realistic, and have a deadline. Keep this in mind for your next meeting.
9. Meetings taking too long
This can be one of the main frustrations with meetings. The fact of the matter is, more people will respond to your meeting requests once they know the meetings are worth their time. Do not waste an entire work day. If they know you're a time-waster, you'll probably get some initial push back. If they know you're the type of leader and facilitator that values their input and time, then you’ll likely have a team ready to execute as soon as the meeting is over. Respect people's time if you want true productivity.
10. People showing up late
Everyone dislikes people who are late for a meeting. And even more so if the meeting can’t get started because someone is not there. While we can do very little to prevent people from being late, there is something we can do. The solution? Simply begin without them. Despite what you've been told, don’t wait for people who are late. The rest of the team should not have to suffer because of one individual's tardiness.
Meetings can have a direct impact on your business, team morale, and the outcome of increased growth. Avoid these mistakes in order to have effective meetings that push your organisation forward. You'll see a noticeable difference when you do!