Seems like everyone hates company meetings, but very few ever get fixed. Most people endure lousy meetings, because they’ve bought into the idea that meetings are a necessary evil in business. Others have tried making changes, but change doesn’t mean improvement.
If you want to fix painful company meetings, you’ll need to identify what the problems are. Here are six common meeting problems, with doable fixes you can implement to get real improvement.
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Participants Check Out
There are all kinds of reasons people mentally check out of meetings, but there’s one reason that rises to the top: you’ve got the wrong people in the meeting. People care about doing good work (assuming you’ve hired the right people), and they care about issues that impact their work. They’ll be actively engaged in meetings that are relevant to their work.
If you find that people are mentally checking out during meetings, it’s probably because the issues aren’t relevant to them. Make sure you have the right people in every meeting.
You could also find that people check out if they’re dialing into meetings—even when the meeting is relevant to their work. It’s simply very difficult to stay engaged with group discussions for long periods of time when you’re on the phone.
We’ve found that video calls help solve that problem. Seeing everyone’s face helps keep you engaged—partly because you can interact more fully with the group, and partly because everyone will see if you’re not paying attention! For this reason, Traction Tools has built-in Zoom video conferencing into our software, so you’ll provide a helpful mechanism that makes it easier for everyone to stay engaged at every Level 10 Meeting™.
No Clear Purpose
There’s nothing worse than a meeting without a clear purpose, because they’re sure to be a waste of everyone’s time. If you don’t have a clear purpose, then no one really knows what the meeting is supposed to accomplish. There’s no agenda to guide the meeting and keep it on track, so it’s incredibly easy for discussion to get hijacked by a random comment.
Every meeting needs an agenda. As one columnist put it, “A meeting without an agenda is like a restaurant dinner without a menu.” Agendas give meetings purpose, shape, and focus. They enable your team to come prepared, they maximize your time and they establish boundaries for discussion. Agendas also help to determine who should attend, so you’re not wasting anyone’s time.
Even if you’ve got an agenda, it’s possible for discussion to go off the rails. Extroverts in particular are brilliant rabbit trail chasers, and if you’re not careful, you could get pulled along with them.
A good meeting only has one conversation going on at a time—and it’s directly related to the agenda. Instead, many company meetings are constantly battling sidebar conversations, rabbit trails, and someone’s pet issues. These meetings quickly devolve into unfocused time and wasted energy, and usually another meeting needs to be scheduled to tackle the unfinished business of the first one. Ugh!
The fix for this issue is actually quite simple, but it requires a willingness to call an Ace an Ace. First, establish a ground rule that all discussion sticks to the agenda. Also agree that anytime discussion starts to stray, it gets called out. Give everyone permission to be ruthless about it, too! Finally, the facilitator needs to be committed to sticking to the agenda. That’s it—easy peasy, right? Well, maybe not. But it’s not complicated, and it won’t take long for everyone to get used to the new normal.
Painful Meeting Setting
Sometimes it’s not the meeting itself that’s the problem, but the environment you’re in. Coworkers keep popping their heads in to ask a “quick question,” or the noise from machine shop leaks through the wall, or the thermostat never seems to work. Maybe the room is drab, or the chairs are painfully uncomfortable. Research shows that even the best meetings can be lousy if you’re stuck in a bad meeting space.
Find a quiet, comfortable, well-lit environment that’s free of distractions. You’ll be surprised what a big difference it’ll make toward getting things done! When you’re comfortable and undistracted, your productivity skyrockets. And you’ll enjoy your meetings a lot more, too!
Start Late, End late
If you start late, your meetings will be less productive. And you’ll be training your people to arrive late, which means you’ll push start times back even farther. If you end late, you’ll make it hard for your participants to get other work done after the meeting. And if they have back-to-back meetings, they’ll either be late to the next one, or leave early from yours.
Either way, starting and ending late is disrespectful to people’s time.
Make it a ground rule to start and end on time, and enforce it the same way you enforce keeping discussion on track. Traction Tools makes this easy for you with our built-in meeting timer. With just a glance, you know exactly how you’re doing as you move through your Level 10 Meeting™ agenda, so you can end on time every time.
Handpicked related content: Run Efficient Level 10 Meetings from Day One!
Nothing Happens After the Meeting
Congratulations! You had all the right people in your meeting, you stuck to a clear agenda, and you finished on time. It was the most productive meeting you’ve had in recent memory. Everyone is walking out the door excited about the decisions you made and the problems you tackled.
Oops! You forgot something! Nothing you do in your meeting matters, unless you have clear follow-up actions. Who’s going to do what, by when? Always make sure each decision is tied to a point person, so the productivity of your meeting gets translated into real life.
Fortunately, Traction Tools makes this easy. You can quickly capture To-Dos during your meeting, and assign an owner for each one. Reminders are automatically sent to each To-Do’s owner throughout the week.
Less Distraction. More Traction.
We hate lousy meetings, and we’ve built our business around helping you to get the most out of your company meetings. We can’t solve all of your meeting woes, but we can help eliminate a big chunk of them! Take your meetings to the next level with Traction Tools—the officially licensed provider of EOS software that gives you everything you need to run more efficient, high-quality meetings.
See how Traction Tools can help boost your meetings—get your free trial today!