How to Host Business Meetings That Don’t Put Attendees to Sleep

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Meetings are a way of life in many organizations, but they don’t have to be time-consuming and boring. If your meetings lack life and don’t seem to engage attendees enough, then something must be done sooner rather than later.

Four Tips for More Productive and Engaging Meetings

Every business is unique and your definition of “productive and engaging” may differ from the next, but if you’re still doing the same things you were doing five or ten years ago, chances are, you aren’t maximizing your time.

Here are some specific tips for getting more out of your meetings:

  1. Be Prepared

The individual running the meeting needs to be prepared. This is the single biggest factor in hosting a productive and timely meeting. If the host isn’t prepared, then everything else gets thrown off.

If you’re running the meeting, spend a few minutes jotting down a brief outline before the meeting starts. This outline will keep you accountable and help you reel things back in when people get off topic.

  1. Use the Right Tools

By the time you schedule a meeting and wait for everyone to arrive, very rarely do you start on time. In fact, the first 10 or 15 minutes are often filled with unnecessary chitchat. Well, we live in a modern world with modern solutions. Every meeting doesn’t have to take place in person.

By hosting meetings remotely – over the cloud – you can respect people’s time and greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to cut to the chase. This allows you to host more productive meetings and forces you to only invite the people who need to be there.

  1. Start Meetings at Unusual Times

Generally speaking, most meetings start on the hour or half-hour. Every now and then, you’ll see one begin on the quarter-hour. The reason for these consistent start times is that they allow busy people to schedule back-to-back meetings. The issue is that people don’t always take the times seriously or attempt to do something between meetings and end up being late.

“A good strategy for overcoming this problem is starting the meeting at an unusual time,” business consultant Tom LaForce says. “Try scheduling the meeting for 10:10 or 2:37. The strangeness of the starting time helps people arrive on time for two reasons. First, they have time to take care of their needs between meetings. Second, they are more likely to notice the starting time and think that the precision must be for an important reason.”

  1. Remove the Chairs and Prohibit Devices

One of the reasons meetings tend to last so long is that people get distracted and aren’t fully engaged. You can overcome this tendency by removing the chairs and forcing people to stand up. This strange, yet effective tactic makes people feel less comfortable and discourages disengagement. People want to get out so that they can go back to their offices and sit down

Another tip is to prohibit devices – including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. (Only presenters should be allowed to bring electronics if they pertain to the meeting.) If people want to take notes, they should bring a legal pad and pen. This may seem archaic, but you’d be surprised how much distraction it removes from a meeting setting.

Don’t be a Bore

Who said meetings have to be boring and clinical? If you look at what some of today’s leading business are doing, you’ll notice that they’re placing an emphasis on making meetings shorter, more productive, and more engaging.

Using the tips highlighted in this article, you should be able to identify areas where you’re lacking and smooth them over with updated approaches.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.