Meetings have always had a bad rap. According to a Clarizen survey, 35% of employees think they're a waste of time, and 46% would prefer to do anything instead, including going to the DMV. But now that most of us are working remotely, meetings have taken on all-new importance. They're an opportunity to catch up, talk to other humans, get on the same page about work, and connect as colleagues.
At StellaPop, we don't think it's meetings that are the problem per se, but rather how they're run. Here are our tips for making meetings something we can all look forward to.
Make it Interactive.
If your meeting is a series of long, dry speeches read verbatim from company reports, it's time to rethink. To keep employees engaged, encourage participation and interaction. Stuck for options? Try these on for size:
- Ice-breakers. Start your meeting by getting participants to chime in with something they did on the weekend, a recently consumed book or TV show, or their opinions on age-old questions like cats vs dogs or coffee vs. tea. This is a fun way to engage people and learn more about your team.
- Pop quizzes. Running a meeting about sales metrics, a brand refresh, or a new IT system? Hold a quick quiz with prizes for whoever gets the most questions right. You'll level up your engagement, plus you'll encourage everyone to bring their A-game to meetings.
- Share successes. If a team or individual has achieved something great, encourage them to share. This gives them much more ownership over their successes than if news comes from up top.
- Run polls. Want your employees' feedback on a topic, idea, or proposal? Run polls and surveys throughout the meeting. This encourages participation and delivers real feedback on the company's next steps.
- Just for fun. Not all meetings have to be strictly work-related. Team-building matters, too! Schedule regular quick catch-ups that focus on connection and use them to play games, chit chat, or talk about hobbies or interests.
Cater to Attention Spans.
We've all got a dozen different things clamoring for our attention at any given minute. Meetings, especially virtual ones, often demand time and attention that we can struggle to give. Here's how to cater to modern-day attention spans.
- Keep it short. We seldom need to sit in on a 2-hour long meeting. Keep your meetings to 20-30 minutes, if possible. If you have a lot to cover, break them up into multiple short sessions.
- Small invite lists. Only invite people who really need to be there. Assign roles and set tasks - and let employees log off if they're no longer needed.
- Set an agenda. Send out an agenda before the meeting, and make sure you stick to it. "Buzz" people who waffle or go off-topic; you can always return to these offline or in a different meeting. Tip: keep a list of these topics for future reference.
- End early. If you've wrapped everything up ahead of time, go ahead and log off. (Or try one of our ice-breakers above!) There's no need to keep people in a meeting just because the time is there. Video calls are exhausting, so if the opportunity presents itself, take advantage of it!
- Take a break. If interest is lagging, set aside a few minutes for showing off pets, kids, prized houseplants, or even that special cup of home-brewed coffee. This will help refresh your attendees, while also providing additional moments for connection.
Meetings have always been a challenge to perfect, and virtual meetings add a whole extra dimension of difficulty. But by encouraging interaction and being mindful of people's time, you'll be able to get much more out of your scheduled meetings.