Business meetings have a reputation for being boring and unproductive. A recent Igloo Software survey of office professionals found that approximately half of all employees find them to be unproductive. Common complaints include going off-topic, redundant speakers and unnecessary meetings. As a manager, it is important to find ways to make your business meetings engaging, effective and productive. Here are four common business meeting mistakes you want to avoid.
1. No Agenda
A business meeting with no agenda essentially has no purpose. This is the type of meeting that can end up going for too long or ending up off-topic, and getting classified as pointless or unnecessary by employees. Before calling your team to meet, consider if the meeting is even necessary. If it truly is, set an agenda. "Have defined start and end times, and most important, have someone to lead the meeting and keep it on track," advises Tim Eisenhauer, president of intranet provider Axero Solutions. Make a list of the most important topics that must be covered, and distribute the agenda to all attendees well in advance of the meeting so they all know what to expect and can come prepared.
2. Annoying Buzzwords
The use of corporate jargon during a business meeting is a major cause of eye-rolls among employees. Constant use of vague, overused phrases such as "think outside the box," "going forward" and "touch base" is a turnoff and may cause your team to stop listening. Using plain language to explain concepts is often the best strategy.
Too many distractions during business meetings is a productivity killer. Fifty-one and 47 percent of employees surveyed are annoyed by meeting attendees taking calls and having side conversations, respectively. Twenty-two percent say that others eating or drinking during meetings is a major pet peeve. Keep meetings productive by laying down some ground rules: no eating or drinking, turn off or mute all cellphones and other devices, and step out of the meeting to take urgent phone calls. This not only helps eliminate distractions but also keeps the meeting short, which all employees appreciate.
4. Improper Use of Technology
Business meetings are no stranger to technology. PowerPoint presentations, video conferencing and screen sharing are commonly used in the conference room. Unfortunately, technological difficulties come with the territory and can cause meeting attendees to become annoyed or disengaged. It's difficult for employees to stay focused and interested if the video feed keeps freezing or if the conference call keeps dropping or causing static. To avoid this, do a test run of all technological devices you plan to use in the next meeting. Be prepared with paper printouts and other old-school alternatives in the event that something happens to disrupt your connection.
Business meetings are a necessary evil for most office professionals, but there are ways to make them more palatable for your team. Put the time and energy into transforming your regular business meetings into stimulating sessions that inspire and motivate everyone involved while making every team member feel engaged and useful.
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