If I asked a crowd of people if they’ve ever attended a meeting that wasted their time, I’m sure I’d see a sea of hands in the air. A recent article from Forbes referred to a meeting that wasted 300,000 hours a year! While meetings are a necessary evil for collaborating with co-workers and clients, there are certain protocols and guidelines that should be followed to maximize productivity and avoid costly mistakes like the following.
1. Using Meeting Time Ineffectively
In a recent Harvard Business Review survey of 200 executives across many industries, only 17 percent reported that their meetings are generally productive uses of group and individual time. There are many ways that meeting time is used ineffectively. From the start, meetings that lack proper structure and a to-do list are headed down a production-killing path. In every meeting, there should be an actionable item list that allows tasks to be assigned to individuals in an orderly fashion once pertinent discussions have taken place.
Also, meeting length should be kept to a minimum, with a hard stop time. Even though most electronic calendars default to 30-minute meetings, many companies are finding that 15-minute meetings keep productivity high and use time effectively. In this scenario, every participant is forced to be succinct and stay on topic.
More employees should be questioning whether it’s worth accepting meeting invites. Many people just blindly accept every meeting request to their Inbox – regardless of whether or not they have valuable information to share with or gain from meeting participants. Being selective about meeting attendance is your right and just makes sense. There are only 24 hours in a day, after all!
A great way to make the most of meeting time is through the use of virtual meetings. Everyone’s time is valuable and travelling – even just to drive to the building 2 blocks down - takes time and money. West has a deep portfolio of video and web conferencing solutions that maximize meeting time, offering the flexibility for hosting and attending any size meeting, with top-of-the-line collaborative tools for quick task assignments and decision-making.
2. Focusing on Distractions
Have you ever found yourself in a group or public situation where an audible or visual sound or movement pulled your focus away from whatever you were actually supposed to be doing? Of course you have; we all have. It is easy to be distracted by the overwhelming amount of stimuli in the fast-paced world in which we all live. In the same vein, there are plenty of distractions that inhibit meeting productivity. Some of these include the following:
Inviting too many Attendees to your Meeting - Only stakeholders need to attend meetings. This helps avoid the “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario leading to unavoidable tangents. Ideally, the number of stakeholders should be limited to 5-8 people.
Annoying Behaviors - Behaviors like eating, gum chewing, nose blowing, throat clearing, tapping, etc. can take the focus off the presenter or the topic of discussion, and should be avoided.
Working (or Playing) on Tech Devices – In the age where everyone has a smartphone (to which they are greatly attached), the pull to check for notifications, answer a text, or even take a turn on a mobile game is very real and very strong. Even when users are taking notes on a laptop, they can easily be distracted by email notifications and other tasks waiting to be completed. It’s usually better to leave all devices out of the meeting room to limit temptations altogether.
Due to both internal and external distractions, meeting-goers are often not completely present at meetings. Using video and web conferencing tools can actually help to mitigate these issues and draw the attention back to the presenter. Products like InterCall Unified Meeting 5 - a fully-featured virtual collaboration toolset – can help to minimize distractions through its built-in features. These features include “lecture mode”, the ability to lock meetings or reject or dismiss participants, and the ability to highlight certain pieces of the presentation – all which help to minimize distractions.
3. Lack of a Facilitator
To ensure meetings are productive, someone must be at the helm to keep steering the meeting towards completion. Oftentimes meetings are scheduled to discuss a topic or issue but there is a lack of a point person to take control and help facilitate the meeting’s progress.
Certain tools used in web and video conferencing help to facilitate meetings just in the way they are structured. For example, presentation software shared via web conferencing limits the meeting material and therefore time, to the number of slides being covered. There is a specific start and end to the meeting as the content on each slide is discussed. And meeting management tools included with products like InterCall Unified Meeting 5 allow presenters to manage and control participation to keep things headed in the right direction.
4. Lacking the Tools to Communicate Effectively and Comprehensively
When collaborating on a shared project, co-workers often bring information into a meeting derived from a variety of places. They might be referencing emails, bringing in hand-written notes in a binder, or printing off the latest sales spreadsheet. With data coming from myriad sources, it can sometimes be difficult to get all attendees on the same page. This is where video and web conferencing tools come into play.
West’s conferencing and collaboration solutions unify all modes of business communication – voice, visual and virtual – to meet your business’ needs. Whether for daily meetings or global announcements and events, West has a wide collection of products, services and tools that combine current technologies and top industry partners to help your employees maximize their time and productivity, and grow your business along the way.
Unified Communications (UC) conferencing and collaboration tools help maximize meeting productivity, because transit time is not required for video and web conferencing, and coordinating meeting times is easier with presence and calendaring. UC solutions help employees to use meeting time effectively, avoid distractions, assist with meeting facilitation and provide the tools necessary to complete projects and close deals that help grow profits. Connect with a member of the West sales team today, to see how our conferencing and collaboration tools can increase meeting productivity in your organization.
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