Meetings… Most people can easily think of something nicer to do. In fact, many people find meetings totally mind-numbing. Why is that? Do we get annoyed with colleagues who are meanwhile busy with entirely different things? Who visibly take no active part? Or are there other factors to consider? On average, we spend 6.5 hours a week in meetings, so at least let’s make them a bit easier and enjoyable! To help you, this blog describes the four biggest annoyances with meetings. Because once you realise why you approach meetings with a sense of foreboding, you know where changes should be made.
Annoyance 1: Meetings that are too long
Meetings that remain within the time limit are pretty rare, which is a pity because giving them your full attention for one hour really is the limit. Our attention span is simply not longer than that. If your meeting extends beyond that, there’s a big risk that you’ll talk your way round in circles. And that participants are no longer paying attention. So what’s the answer to this annoyance? It’s a well-structured agenda with a time limit for each item. That’s how to stop the meeting from overrunning. And if you really can’t avoid a meeting lasting longer than one hour, build in short breaks. That keeps people fresher.
Annoyance 2: Not enough decisions
You often find in meetings that everyone wants to have their say but no one dares to make a decision. And what’s the result? Items on the agenda that are carried over to the next meeting. And, yep, before you know it you’re attending yet another meeting in which no decision is made. You can avoid this by noting down a clear objective for each item in the written agenda. This makes it easier for participants to prepare themselves for making a decision. But that’s not quite all there is to it: an authoritative chairperson is also a must in preventing this annoyance.
Annoyance 3: Routine meetings
Do you often attend meetings that take place at a fixed time? Like that permanent Monday morning meeting, for example? They can be useful, but if you notice that there are often too few issues to discuss, you’ve ended up in a pointless meeting. You and your colleagues can avoid that by deciding whether there are enough items to discuss in advance. If there aren’t, cancel the meeting.
Annoyance 4: No fixed structure
“I had the feeling that I was pushing around a wheelbarrow full of croaking frogs,” said the chair of a meeting recently. And that was right. The agenda was unclear and the participants discussed all sorts of things at the same time. To make matters worse, the time limit for the meeting was also unclear. In short, it was a mess. One frog after another left the meeting, which made life difficult for the secretary. Here too, a clear agenda stating the time limit for each item and the objective works wonders.
If you want to put an end to all of these meeting annoyances, read our e-book. Here you’ll find a lot of tips to help you improve your meetings.