A report by the Office of Human Resource Development at the University of Wisconsin has proved something we are all aware of: business meetings don’t always go to plan.
We’ve all sat in meetings that have gone on a tangent, gone over the allocated time or just not happened at all.
Using the University’s careful research, here’s 5 of the most common business meeting problems and how to resolve them:
Finishing the meeting on time
Whether people are late to attend, there are problems with technology or there is too much planned for the allocated time, meetings often run over. But there are different strategies you can try to help your meetings to run to time:
- Try a stand-up meeting – get rid of the ‘lazy chair’ and get people up on their feet; keep them literally on their toes. People will feel more energised and be ready to move on to the next thing rather than slumping in their chair.
- Set an agenda for the meeting so everyone knows what is to be discussed, and how long you have to discuss each item.
- Allocate a timekeeper to watch the clock during the meeting, and ensure everyone sticks to schedule, moving things on when necessary.
- Ensure everyone attends the meeting on time, by scheduling in peoples calendars with alert notifications five or ten minutes before the designated start time.
- Place topics that require more discussion at the beginning of the agenda which will allow you and your colleagues to rattle through the smaller decisions faster.
- If relying on technology, like connecting your laptop to a big screen, practise first to make sure you have the right cables for the connection. Even better, use a solution like Clickshare that allows you to connect the contents of your personal device to the main screen wirelessly, by simply plugging the Clickshare button into your laptop via a USB.
No decisions made
Some meetings can drag on as when colleagues fail to agree on a certain situations. Although goals and outcomes are required from the meeting, often these are not documented beforehand, thus the target of the meeting is not met. Here are some strategies you can try to overcome this:
- Set out expectations and goals in the meeting agenda for colleagues to work towards.
- If colleagues fail to agree, the meeting chair or timekeeper can come back to the question that kick-started the discussion.
- Ask people to provide supporting data for their argument to help sway the majority one way or the other based on facts rather than opinions.
- Be prepared to walk away. If your discussions have reached a stale mate then pausing the discussion to allow time to reflect could help a decision to be made whilst ensuring the meeting runs to time.
Dominators and silent participants
In any meeting there will be more dominant characters and quieter participants. The problem with this is that the louder participants don’t necessarily have the best ideas, although they will be the only ones that are heard. The result can be reduced collaboration, inefficient problem solving and stifled creativity. Try these solutions to readdress the balance:
- Rather than have a ‘brainstorming’ session where people come up with ideas all together, ask people to do a silent brainstorm on their own either prior to or during the meeting. Then ask everyone to discuss their answers, one at a time. This avoids ‘groupthink’ where everyone latches on to one idea (often from the most dominant character) without investigating or challenging alternatives.
- If you have senior members of the team who like to dominate meetings, try offering training and consultation on techniques and strategies associated with leadership – sometimes having the right feedback can be enough to help people work more effectively with others.
- Using a digital idea capture system like a Nureva Span allows people to capture ideas in a meeting, but because those ideas are saved in a cloud you can revisit those notes after the meeting. If someone hasn’t participated in the discussion you could encourage them to add their own ‘sticky notes’ to the musings after the meeting.
- For groups that may not be familiar with eachother, a simple strategy like asking everyone to make ‘name tent’ can create the familiarity and confidence for people to speak up.
Did not attend
Whether there are problems on the commute, children are sick at home or simply other work commitments, there are often times when people cannot attend meetings. This causes delay, impacts productivity and prevents decisions being made. But there are steps you can take to overcome this…
- Set up video conferencing so people can still be a part of the meeting wherever they are in the world. You can now get cloud-based video conferencing for a fraction of the cost of traditional legacy systems with a connection that is secure, reliable and high quality.
- Digital whiteboards are a great way to record ideas and notes from meetings, but a two-way whiteboard like the SMART kapp iQ allows remote participants to both see and annotate on the notes in real time so you can still collaborate if someone has not been able to make it into the office.
- Good quality cameras and speakers are now really affordable so you can chat on video or on a conference call and be sure that everyone can be seen and heard.
Failing technology is an ongoing business meeting problem for many workers. Poor wi-fi connections, fiddly wires, stilted conference calls – the list goes on. It seems strange that having great technology at home or at your desk is expected but meeting rooms often fail to deliver even the most basic requirements. The fact is that technology should make us more efficient but poor technology, or an absence of it, can waste time and reduce productivity. Try these solutions to help you work smarter, not harder:
- Test your technology system prior to your meeting to save time and alleviate any problems that may arise.
- Ensure laptops and phones are fully charged before going into the meeting, or invest in a meeting room table with its own power sources and connectivity ports.
- Get wi-fi across all meeting areas
- Arrange a consultation with an expert to understand what technology would best support your meetings, whether it be low-cost video conferencing, digital whiteboards, or wireless presentation systems so you can simply click to connect to the big display.
Putting these top tips into practice will allow your meetings to flow easier than ever before. And if in doubt, good coffee and a nice biscuit or two will never go amiss!
At Tecinteractive we are passionate about helping people to have better meetings. We know that choosing the right technology to make your meetings more productive and more effective, isn’t always an easy decision. That’s why we offer a free consultation service, where we can find out more about your business, and make recommendations based on your specific needs.
Find out more about our technology consultancy service here.
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