With the availability of communication options like emails, phone calls, instant messaging, and video conference calls, the need for face-to-face meetings is now up for debate.In fact, according to the ‘The State of Meetings Report 2019’, findings show that professionals spend two hours a week in pointless meetings across the globe. Another notable insight was that Swedish employees take over 10 hours to reply to meeting invites.
However, the same study also points out that 76% of employees prefer face-to-face meetings to calls or video chats. This tells us that meeting in person is still an important aspect of business, as it provides a sense of intimacy, empathy, and connection that can’t be replicated through virtual communication. Physical handshakes also promote cooperation and influence positive outcomes.
But in order to avoid wasting time in meetings, there are certain dos and don’ts to consider.
An effective meeting follows a structure. A meeting with no clear objective at hand is an invitation to kill hours that could otherwise have been used productively. Here are a few ways to set up a good meeting:
- Create a detailed agenda. This information should then be part of the meeting invite.
- Assign roles to certain people, like timekeeper and note-taker or someone to record the minutes.
- Iron out meeting details. A previous Stratsys post explains how you can keep attendees focused even before the meeting by outlining where the meeting place is and how to get there.
Don’t invite everyone
People who feel like their presence isn’t necessary in meetings are likely to get distracted. So don’t be pressured to invite everyone for the sake of including them. Research from Stanford University suggests that seven people is the number in a meeting. Any more may affect the quality in terms of contribution, while any fewer may lead to groupthink.
- Send invites to professionals who are directly involved.
- An exception would be if the meeting involves a major company deal, like an acquisition or new client briefing. The attendees can easily be determined once a clear agenda is set.
Do employ useful tools
Technology has served the workplace well in various ways. Although in-person meetings are still important, modern apps and software have become good alternatives for group discussions. Internal communication platforms like Slack and Skype for Business have helped eliminate the need to set face-to-face meetings in which issues can be solved in less than an hour.
However, there are also useful tools that can help facilitate face-to-face meetings. Simon Lofwander posted an article on Ayima about the significance of artificial intelligence systems in the workplace, stating how they are being used by tech giants like Google, Apple, and Microsoft. AI-powered apps can help perform numerous tasks at work, like bookkeeping, tracking employee attendance, and much more.
- AI assistants can help you schedule meetings and invite key people.
- Others, like EVA by Voicea, have useful features such as listening and taking notes of important moments in meetings.
Don't drone on
The key to a productive meeting is engagement from each attendee. However, engagement can be hindered if facilitators fail to create an environment that encourages open communication.
- Check on the attendees and ask feedback at least every 10 minutes.
- As a facilitator, encourage participation from each person. If someone hasn’t spoken yet, be sure to give them the floor.
- Build trust in the room and invite creative or controversial ideas by offering one yourself.
By the end of the meeting, attendees should feel inspired or determined. In closing, ask the attendees for feedback on how the meeting went in general. Throw in questions like, “Was the meeting’s agenda clear?” or “Did this meeting provide insight to what must be done moving forward?” From there, the participants can have a brief discussion on what the next steps are before they leave.