Wondering how you can improve your meetings?
Maybe make them more effective?
Then, you’ve come to the right place.
Today, we’ll look at common problems in meetings… Problems that make your meetings time-wasters instead of productive sessions.
Here below are 5 common complaints about meetings- and how to fix them.
Reason #1: “Why Is This Meeting Not Getting Anywhere?”
Ever been in a meeting room where it felt like time stood still?
Then you’re familiar with this meeting complaint.
You see, there are few things that are worse than feeling like you’re watching paint dry.
In fact, people say they prefer that to boring meetings.
But why do meetings end up here?
Some of the most common problems in meetings are:
#1: People keep talking in circles
You know what it feels like:
Listening to people who keep talking in circles.
It’s frustrating, no?
Yup. And that’s exactly why it’s such a huge problem for your meetings.
How do you get people out of this annoying meeting habit?
Time the meeting.
Put an actual egg timer in the middle of the meeting room so that everyone sees how much time is left.
What does the egg timer do?
It gives your meeting some well-needed urgency.
And thanks to this urgency, your meeting suddenly gets very focused.
#2: The meeting is too long
Long meetings are problematic by default.
Because they leave too much room for rambling and unfocused work.
Instead, schedule 15-30 minutes for your meetings.
This way, no one has time to get bored and lose attention. People will keep focused on the meeting purpose.
And if you’re thinking:
“We could never make that- there are so many of us.”
Here’s the thing:
Your meetings should only include those who are absolutely indispensable for the meeting purpose.
Don’t invite others “in case of” or to not come off as rude.
Reason #2: “What’s The Point of This Meeting?”
One of the biggest problems in meetings is this:
They feel pointless.
Why is that?
#1: The information could be sent in an email
If you spend an hour discussing something that could be sent in a quick email, your meeting will feel like a waste of time.
Instead, make sure a meeting is the best way to communicate this information.
In short, your meeting is needed if you expect any kind of discussion.
If you’re purely informing people about something, meetings are probably not the best way to go.
Want to learn more? Read our guide on reasons to run a meeting.
#2: There’s no stated meeting purpose
Now, if there’s one problem with meetings, it’s this:
They don’t have a purpose.
And because many meetings lack purpose, people ramble, and they get stuck in details.
To fix this:
Decide on a meeting purpose before the meeting.
Your meeting instantly gets boundaries.
People know what they’re expected to talk about.
And they won’t get stuck in details because they see the big picture.
Overall, your meeting immediately becomes more productive.
Reason #3: “Can’t People Check Their Emails at Their Desks?”
Is there anything more frustrating than this?
You’re at a meeting- urgent tasks are waiting on your desk.
And everyone keeps checking their phones or working on their laptops.
If there’s one thing the meeting feels like, it’s a waste of time.
So what can you do to prevent your meeting from getting hijacked by smartphones and laptops?
#1: Set ground rules
First and foremost:
Set clear and firm meeting rules.
Ask meeting participants to leave their laptops and phones at their desks.
Set the expectation:
When they’re at a meeting, they are needed.
If you still struggle with this, read on!
#2: Improve your meeting management
Rules are great… Until people forget about them and everything returns to normal.
That’s why you, as the meeting leader, need to make sure your meetings are led effectively.
Remind people of your meeting rules.
Make sure they follow them (and remind them of why they exist).
If you do this consistently, you’ll see a major increase in your meeting productivity.
Reason #4: “Why Are We STILL Talking About This?”
What’s the definition of a purposeless meeting?
That’s right- meetings where the same things are discussed over and over again.
Why does this happen?
Because there’s no follow-up system in place.
People are unclear about what was decided on during the meeting.
No one ‘owns’ the action items.
So nothing gets done in between meetings. And you end up having that déjà vu feeling because the same things get discussed.
But here’s how to avoid ending up there:
#1: Create clear action items
Your action items need to be clear so that it’s easy to follow through.
Here’s what you need to include:
#1: Ownership. Who’s responsible for getting the action item done? This information is crucial because if you don’t define it, chances are the task doesn’t get done at all.
#2: Details. What is the action item all about? Be as specific as possible to avoid any misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
#3: Deadline. When’s the deadline? Chances are the project will be left undone unless it has a deadline.
But action items aren’t enough.
You also need a follow-up system:
#2: Create a follow-up system
With a follow-up system, you guarantee that your meeting action items get done.
You can check them off… And don’t have to discuss them at yet another meeting.
So what does a good follow-up system look like?
Your follow-up system can be as simple as scheduling a few reminder emails.
Or, you could set up a task tracking system with an automation tool, such as Trello.
Our meeting tool, Minute, lets you add due dates to your tasks so that you can create and follow up on them in one place.
Want to learn more about action items and tracking them? Read our guide here.
Reason #5: “Why Does No One Say Anything?”
Meetings are all about collaboration.
If you want to inform meeting attendants of something and don’t expect any interaction, you could just send an email.
So when meetings end up being a one-sided monologue, you know something’s gone wrong.
But how do you make sure this doesn’t happen?
Take these steps:
#1: Make it easier to speak up
If you notice that people don’t say anything during your meetings, the reason could be simple.
The threshold for speaking up might be too high.
Maybe it’s office dynamics.
Maybe it’s that they don’t understand what your meeting is all about (say, you haven’t defined its purpose).
Or- maybe your meeting is just plain boring.
Some examples on what you can do are:
- Give a task to everyone and show appreciation. If you give people a chance to prepare before the meeting, it’ll feel so much easier to speak up during the meeting.
- Start with an icebreaker to help people feel at ease. For example: “What do you like most about your job and why?”
- Ask people what they want your meetings to look like. Give your co-workers a chance to give their opinion on what your meetings should look like.
But that’s not all.
There’s another way you can increase meeting interaction.
Read on to find out what it is.
#2: Make sure everyone gets a chance to speak up
Here’s the thing:
The level of participation at your meetings comes down to one person… The meeting leader.
Instead of vaguely asking for people’s opinion, do this:
You know how meetings start with a vague question along the lines of: “Who wants to say something?”
Don’t do that.
Assign a speaking slot to every meeting participant.
This speaking slot is about 5 minutes.
If people don’t have a longer time to speak, they will need to focus down of what they want to say.
Obviously, you will need to give them all the information before the meeting (the agenda and preferably any background information you have) to help them prepare.
As a result, you’ll get a much more interactive meeting… And less problems in meetings.
How to Fix Your Meetings
There you have it.
Now you know what problems in meetings are ruining your meetings.
To fix your meetings, take a look at the list above.
What’s the first step you’ll take to fix your meetings?
Leave a comment below and let us know.