People tend to get emotional about meetings. “Well, that was productive,” one might say, with a touch of sarcasm. “A total waste of time,” says another attendee, with not a trace of irony. “Meetings suck,” flatly declares a third, expressing exactly what we’re all thinking.
And yet, at one time or another, we’ve all been in the position of organizing the meeting. No one wants to hear later that their meeting was unproductive or frustrating to sit through. After all, we want to get things done.
Talk about pressure.
Here’s the good news: Your next meeting doesn’t have to suck. In fact, if you follow four simple rules, with the right collaboration software, attendees will leave your meeting knowing they’ve accomplished something.
1. Plan ahead with agenda-planning tools.
Off-the-cuff meetings are never a good idea. True fact: A little bit of prep work goes a long way. Ask yourself what you need to accomplish and create an agenda tailored to this goal. Do you need to provide some additional information upfront? Should attendees do some prep work beforehand? What are next steps?
Once you’ve defined the points of discussion, create an agenda and add it to your invite. Be sure to set time limits for each item. Stick to your plan during the meeting by using a collaboration tool with a built-in agenda capability, like MiCloud Connect.
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2. Determine who needs to be in the meeting.
Often, meetings aren’t productive because there are too many people involved. According to research conducted at Stanford University, the ideal number of attendees is between five and nine. Organizers tend to invite colleagues who “might” have something worthy to contribute.
A better way to determine who should join is to use your freshly created agenda to select the right people to invite. Choose attendees who are essential to the decision-making process or who have a key role on this particular piece of the project. If your invite includes more than eight people, perhaps it’s time to rethink the meeting. To avoid duplicate conversations, make sure to use a collaboration tool with calendar integration and presence to ensure you’re scheduling the meeting at a convenient time for everyone.
3. Take advantage of virtual workspaces.
Another challenge with meetings? People find it too easy to get distracted. Some drift to email. Others multitask, checking off items on their to-do list. Most – nine out of 10! – spend at least some time daydreaming.
The trick is to engage attendees throughout the meeting. Collaborate in real-time on documents with screen sharing. See each other eye-to-eye using video conferencing. With MiCloud Connect, it’s easy to move seamlessly between desktop sharing and video. Any attendee can share a document or start a video conference with a single tap.
Beyond curtailing the impulse to multitask or daydream, these tools also make communications clearer. It’s easier to grasp the true meaning behind a comment when you can follow words appearing on a page or see the speaker’s facial expressions.
4. Don’t leave ‘em hanging.
Aim to end your agenda with five minutes of “wrap up.” Agree on next steps and who is responsible for each one. Ensure nothing gets missed or forgotten by assigning follow-up tasks in your collaboration tool. Mitel Teamwork has the option to build tasks right into the workspace.
Unproductive meetings reportedly cost U.S. businesses $37 billion a year – and countless hours of exasperation. But with a little planning and smart communications tools, your next meeting most certainly won’t suck. Your colleagues will believe it was time well-spent because they got things done.