- Face-to-face meetings are generally more productive, but video conferencing is a viable alternative.
- Productive meetings are more likely on certain days and at certain times than others.
- Meetings with more action and less talk are more productive, but everyone should still have a chance for their voice to be heard.
- This article is for business owners and managers looking to maximize their meeting productivity.
Almost every workplace sitcom and film makes jokes about boring business meetings and calls. These gags work because they’re so relatable: What office employee doesn’t dread getting trapped in a meeting that drags on forever? Of the 76% of U.S. workers who have participated in a video meeting, 36% indicated in a 2020 Robert Half study that they’ve experienced “video conference fatigue.”
Disinterested participants can obviously render meetings ineffective and unproductive, but what can leaders do to reengage their workers? Jay O’Connor, CMO of Blue Jeans Network, suggested these four tips to make the most of your meetings.
1. Face-to-face interaction is important.
Conference calls save time and travel, but lose the human connection. Survey data compiled by Blue Jeans shows that making a visual connection improves communication and collaboration, and 94% of survey respondents said face-to-face communication improves business relationships, O’Connor said. In an era of distributed teams and remote workers, a visual connection can overcome the barriers of distance and facilitate team bonding.
For those times when face-to-face meetings aren’t practical, choosing the right video conference solution can make your remote meetings more effective.
Video conferencing from a computer, mobile device or room system is a simple way to establish a visual connection when you can’t be face to face. This is especially important for small businesses that might not have the budget to travel. It also matters for more small businesses than ever before, given the widespread shift to remote work amid the COVID-19 pandemic. important words to say in every business meeting
Follow these actionable meeting productivity tips for effective face-to-face interaction:
- Send out an agenda before the meeting. Use the agenda to tell employees where and when they should expect to interact in person, and what the general topic sequence and time allotment of the meeting will be. This way, everyone comes prepared to speak face to face and enjoy a productive meeting.If you can’t meet in person, use the right video conferencing service. Although in-person interaction is preferable, video conferencing can still lead to productive face-to-face meetings if you choose the right platform. Some options are ideal for large teams (read our Join.me review for one example), and others best facilitate cloud collaboration (read our Webex review to learn more). Visit our reviews of the best video conferencing services to find the best fit for your needs.
2. Timing is everything.
In real estate, it’s all about location, but for meetings, timing matters most. Be strategic in picking the best time, date and place for a productive meeting. Forget Monday overload and schedule meetings later in the week. Plan your meeting for midday to allow people to get work done in the morning and afternoon.
Here are some actionable timing-based meeting productivity tips:
- Schedule meetings for Tuesday afternoons. Tuesdays to be the most productive meeting time, based on 2 million meeting invite responses. Sure, you can’t schedule every meeting for this time, but think about what Tuesday afternoon means. It’s not Monday, when the weekend haze hasn’t faded, or Friday, when that haze sets in. It’s also not in the morning when your team is still sorting their day out. Find meeting times that avoid these challenges for top productivity.Ask your employees when they want to meet. Small business owners and team leaders like yourself often set meeting times and demand that employees make those times work. You can increase your meeting productivity by letting your employees make this decision instead. Poll your team on what days and times work best for them, then hold your meetings at the most popular date and time. Your team will likely arrive ready to go. [Read Related: How to improve productivity on video meetings.]
3. Make meetings more action-oriented.
Ditch time-sucking meetings in favor of actionable sessions that get results. Share information such as previous meeting minutes or project updates in advance of the meeting. Email is an efficient way to distribute information and complete prep work so that attendees show up ready to dive into the essential agenda items.
Here’s how to set yourself up for actionable sessions with high rates of meeting productivity:
- Set meeting goals in advance. When you go into your meetings with firm ideas of what you want to achieve, you’re more likely to get those things done. You’re also less likely to have conversations irrelevant to these goals. A meeting with less talk and more action may well result.Keep conversation periods brief in your agenda. Since you’re the person creating your meeting’s agenda, you have tremendous influence over the meeting’s flow. You can go so far as to limit conversation periods to just a few minutes. You can also set large amounts of time for task delegation and other actions. This way, you’ll strike the balance you and your employees need to make the meeting constructive to your goals.
Set an agenda and stick to it. Freewheeling meetings have a tendency to devolve into a meandering conversation with no real actionable points. Take notes and develop clear takeaways and tasks that you can identify in simple bullet points. Learn how the features of the top conferencing apps allow you to take advantage.
4. Give everyone a voice.
Limit participants to those who need to be there, and brief others by email. A meeting with only essential participants will ensure that you optimize the time. These conferences should not feel like a filibuster, but instead like a team effort. To facilitate engagement, give everyone a role and ensure that all participants have a voice.
Follow these tips to ensure everyone is heard and hold a truly productive meeting for all:
- Ask everyone to arrive with questions and ideas. Team members who arrive with discussion items in hand should certainly get to participate. Go around the room and have everyone offer their input. Encourage everyone to share their thoughts even if someone else has already expressed them. Your team will feel more emotionally invested in the meeting, and you’ll have the input you need to be productive.Set meeting roles ahead of time. It’s one thing to know you need to assign everyone roles in your meeting; it’s another to do so ahead of time instead of once people arrive. This way, you don’t spend valuable meeting time establishing roles that you could’ve decided on beforehand. As a result, you’ll have more time for your meeting itself – and that, of course, is time you can use to be productive.
Max Freedman contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.