Have you ever sat in a meeting and had thoughts like these?
Why am I listening to what Steve’s been working on since last week? It has nothing to do with me.
Now we’re talking about that again? Didn’t we cover this in the first few minutes of the meeting?
Hmm. Ham sandwich or salad?
Why did they invite me to this thing? Am I supposed to talk? What is this meeting even about?
Yeah, definitely ham sandwich.
We’ve all sat in unorganized, meandering meetings and wondered 1) what we were doing there and 2) how we could sneak out. Research reported in the Harvard Business Review found 71% of managers believe their companies’ meetings are unproductive and inefficient. Even more troubling, the research found that how employees feel about the effectiveness of their companies’ meetings has a direct effect on their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their jobs. The truth is the quality of your meetings matter.
If you host meetings at work — staff meetings, project meetings, sales pitches to prospects — you have a big responsibility. The way you host and run these meetings, and how much value your attendees find in coming to them, can have a profound effect on how those attendees view you and your company, and can even affect their own happiness levels.
All of which is to say, don’t be one of these meeting hosts.
The “Let’s Go Around the Room and Give Our Updates” Meeting Host
The first question you should ask yourself before scheduling a meeting and sending out invites is, “Do we really need this meeting at all?”
That study covered in the Harvard Business Review also found that 65% of managers believe meetings keep them from completing their work, and 64% say meetings come at the expense of deep thinking.
Which means that those weekly status updates with your team might not only be unnecessary — they might also be undermining everyone’s productivity and enthusiasm levels.
Just because it’s Monday morning (or Friday afternoon) doesn’t mean you need to pull your whole team together for an hour — especially if they’re going to spend that hour telling each other what they’ve been up to since your last status meeting. Unless the project Steve is working on affects most of the meeting attendees, then having Steve review it in detail might not be worth everyone’s time.
The “Let’s Not Waste Time Explaining Why You’re Here” Meeting Host
Often a meeting host will send out invites to colleagues — say, for a meeting called “Q3 Discussion” — and those attendees will obediently show up, not having the slightest idea what the meeting is about or what’s expected of them.
At that point, the host has already made his first mistake: failing to include an agenda — or at least a clear explanation of the meeting’s purpose and goals — with that invite.
But often this host will make the problem even worse when the meeting itself begins — by simply jumping straight into the details without first giving his attendees an overview about why he called the meeting and why he specifically asked for them to join.
When you schedule a meeting, make sure you develop at least two of these three all-important assets before sending out your invitations:
- A clear and detailed agenda that describes your objectives and plan for the meeting included with the invitation.
- A brief, plainly worded description of the meeting’s purpose and main topics included with the invitation.
- A quick high-level introduction you’ll run through at the beginning of the meeting — where you’ll explain why you’ve called the meeting, what topics you’ll be covering and what you hope to accomplish.
The “Only My Screen Counts” Meeting Host
Often a virtual meeting with attendees in different locations turns out far less collaborative, productive and creative than it could’ve been simply because, at important moments in the discussion, the host did not have the technology to hand over control of the screen to a colleague in another location.
But with today’s online meeting platforms, a meeting host can easily hand over keyboard and mouse control to any attendee at any time. The host can even give an attendee access to screen markup tools during the meeting, so the attendee can quickly draw attention to an area of the screen by adding an arrow or circle, for example, or mocking up a diagram in real time for the other attendees to view. There’s no excuse to be the “Only my screen counts” meeting host.
In fact, when you use tools like these to schedule, run and even record your meetings, you’ll find those meetings more productive, your attendees more engaged, and your business benefiting as a result.
Do you have any meeting host horror stories? Share in the comments below!