2015 Resolution: 5 Tactics for Better Meetings
For many of us, meetings are often considered a necessary work-life evil, but there’s no reason for a business (or its employees) to subject themselves to another year of unproductive conferencing.
As we’ve found before, many organizations have yet to master the “art” of efficient, engaging meetings and are suffering the consequences. If your organization struggles with any the behaviors we found in our study, 2015 may be time to make a change. Consider these recommendations to carry out a company-wide resolution to hold better meetings this year.
Tactic 1: Establish Etiquette
An enemy of both productivity and time, poor meeting etiquette plagues many organizations. Frequent interruptions, dialing in late, off-topic tangents and rehashing previously discussed topics are recurring challenges in organizations of all types.
Establishing formal ground rules (especially around habits like remote conferencing) is essential to smoother meetings; employees dialing in while carpooling, busy with family or otherwise distracted are unlikely to be attentive or productive participants.
Tactic 2: Get Organized
The worst kind of meeting is one that never happens. Attendees who agree to a meeting but then forget to dial in at the scheduled time don’t only cause short-term frustration, but also force project delays and throw off everyone’s plans.
Ensuring that your employees have both the tools to get organized and the expectation to do so can prevent some last-minute cancellations and calendar shuffling. There are countless conferencing and productivity apps at the individual and enterprise levels; find one that works for your organization and hold serial no-shows responsible.
Tactic 3: Opt for Video Meetings
Poorly planned audio conference calls often exacerbate the unfortunate tendencies of company meetings, with distracted workers answering emails and checking Twitter feeds instead of being fully invested in the discussion.
Video conferencing can help mitigate these tendencies and encourage more active participation; employees are less likely to multitask or mentally check out when their actions are visible. And the visual link strengthens interpersonal bonds with remote co-workers who don’t get to see each other on a daily basis.
Tactic 4: Encourage Interactive Meetings
Many organizations fall prey to ‘one-sided’ meetings and fail to accomplish real work because only one person does all of the talking. Each form of communication has its strengths, and conferencing is no different. Take advantage of the collaboration that audio, web and video conferencing enables and use these meetings to openly discuss, plan and strategize.
There are so many devices and interfaces fighting for employees’ attention (email, IM, smartphones and even new gadgets like wearables), businesses cannot afford to have meetings simply become lectures. Encourage all attendees to contribute; successful meetings are about ideas and actions, not warm bodies.
Tactic 5: Clean Up Your Meeting Technology
The best meeting strategies won’t help if your conferencing technology isn’t up to par. Choppy voice and video transmission, dropped calls and other IT headaches can drag down conferences before they start. Organizations should check that they are investing enough and in the right places.
A snag anywhere along the line, (like an Internet connection too slow to transmit high quality voice and video), will quickly derail conferences and discourage adoption. Ensure your firm has the IT resources and support it needs; the hidden costs of flawed conferences far outweigh the upfront investment.
West UC research has shown that over 95% of a cost of a conference call is in staff costs. So don’t be penny-wise when it comes to optimizing your team’s conferencing environment.
Businesses never have to settle for wasteful, ineffective conferences—with the necessary time and resources, they’re very much a preventable problem.