One of the many questions we come across in life. Admittedly, this specific query dwells more in the confines of professional life, and may be less philosophical than the average search for meaning or the odd contemplation on life. But it is nonetheless a question we find people come across too often for comfort.
There are a multitude of factors that affect meeting quality. Knowledge of these factors and how to manage them determines whether a meeting is successful, smooth and useful for all in attendance. It is by no means impossible, it simply requires planning and preparation. Everything can be learned, after all.
Nowadays, additional components silently join that complex list of factors. If your business accommodates a hybrid or fully remote workforce, for example, be prepared to welcome a handful of necessary adjustments.
Preparation and planning are key in the plight for successful meetings. With the right tools and techniques, however, meeting optimization can become smooth sailing, regardless of whether they are in-person or Hybrid.
As we are in the business of workspace management & optimization, meeting room booking and resource utilization, we feel it important to offer our tips on how to optimize all types of meetings.
We are sorry to tell you; No, it will not. It will ensure the meetings are seamless, eliminate mistakes and offer unrivalled ease of booking. But the meetings and their success still require work from us, the humans. We can’t put all the work on Wall-E.
Take a look over our tips on how to get the most from your meetings:
Before the meeting, it is important to set an Agenda. This will keep matters clear from the get-go and will help participants be primed, prepared and ready. Clearly state the topic and main objectives of the meeting. Plan the content that will be discussed. Ensure it is pertinent to the topic at hand and that it facilitates a smooth transition to the desired next steps/outcome.
Your Agenda should state clearly:
Taking a look to the West, sources claim that only 37% (1) of US workplace meetings actively make use of meeting agendas. That is an alarmingly low percentage, being only slightly above one third of meetings held. Coincidentally, 37% (2) of employees find unproductive meetings to be the highest cost to their organization. Having a meeting agenda can facilitate productivity. It is simple, not very time consuming and can be extremely helpful. It can offer yourself and your team direction and clarity around what will be discussed. If you have not used an agenda before, and might be interested in what we advise to include, please feel free to download our Meeting Agenda Template here.
Following your purpose, consider if you need a meeting or if everything can be done through asynchronous communication. In asynchronous work, communication is not expected to be immediate, meaning workers can fine-tune work to reduce pressure on themselves and their colleagues. In case you want to communicate tasks to your team or your co-workers, consider sending them communications via email or project management apps.
Carefully consider and plan who is required to attend. Allow and encourage everyone who is attending to be proactive (Otherwise make attendance optional). In larger companies, it is important not to force people into a meeting from which they do not gain anything, or in which they are not encouraged to contribute. They can be given an email with the ultimately agreed upon decisions, and read it in their own time (and in considerably less time), rather than having to listen to a one-hour discussion.
For those who cannot attend, send them a follow up of the discussions.
First things first, always check who is in the office, and who is at home. Based on that, you know who will join in what way (Zoom/G-suite etc. or in-person) and what is needed for everybody to be connected. With Door Tablet, automatic zoom/g-suite/teams invites go out to all invitees, so you don’t have to worry in case someone is not in the office.
The same as for in-person meetings goes for hybrid meetings: Encourage everone to take part, or make attendance optional. Consider that inviting fewer members on both sides can also make it easier for the facilitator to conduct the meeting and invite everybody to speak up.
On many occasions, unstructured meetings take the most time, be this because they don’t have a clear agenda, because attendees are wasting time on unimportant details or due to insufficient planning. But a good meeting does not have to take half the day, nor must it waste time.
Consider allocating time for each subject in your agenda. However, it is important not to rush the subject matter either. Don’t try to too rigidly adhere to the allotted time per subject. Another meeting can be booked to discuss further and avoid ultimately over-running without having to rush subjects. Options for this of course differ depending on the size and subject of the meeting.
Choose the right time to have the meeting. Don’t book the meeting at a time when some people would normally have lunch. Always start on time. We would like to highlight the importance of this point. And unless the meeting is flowing with creativity and productivity, end on time too.
For those especially efficient meetings, don’t be afraid to end early either if all points have been discussed to satisfaction.
It might be worth looking into having shorter meetings, but more frequently. Depending on whether the meeting concerns one subject or multiple, the ideal meeting length is about 15 minutes. Studies show that in meetings that are no longer than 15 minutes, 91% of attendees are paying attention. This number steadily declines until it reaches only 64% in meetings over 45 minutes. This may be something worth experimenting with, taking into account that of course some meetings require more time than a mere 15 minutes. Perhaps, however, not all do.
Make sure everyone is in the right time zone.
At least 55% of employees perform multitasking, which is also more likely to occur when meetings are longer. Especially in Hybrid meetings.
You want to have a balanced meeting where everybody is involved and aware of what is happening. A way to tackle this is to divide the responsibility of the meeting by inviting people to take roles. This may also encourage members to be more engaged, and it furthers their career and confidence. We have compiled a set of roles inspired by Alain Cardon’s Systemic Delegated Processes (3)Systemic Delegated Processes (3) that can work for large meetings (5+ participants), collective decision making meetings and for regular/monthly meetings with your team. It may be worth a try. Offer your meeting attendees the chance to pick and choose one of these roles they would like to fulfil in the meeting:
A facilitator moderates the conversation during the meeting. They are:
The person who is preparing the meeting doesn’t have to be the facilitator too.
This role’s responsibility is to be constantly and actively focused first on provoking decisions. The Decision-Driver comes in handy when co-workers are debating a topic and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel by asking them questions like:
By asking these types of questions, it will help the facilitator to discuss the other topics on the agenda without stagnating on details.
In addition, a decision driver will invite all the co-workers to be proactive and allocate their own tasks & deadlines after each topic.
This role, if used properly, can save the meeting from becoming a waste of time and energy. As suggested, it may be useful when writing your agenda to allow time for each subject. The timekeeper will use those allotted times to tell people how much time they have left for discussing each subject. We would like to reiterate that some subjects however should not be rushed, and instead the subsequent topics could be postponed to another meeting later that day.
4. Note Taker
Quite as the name suggests, the note taker’s role is to take notes. Writing down information, what has been agreed and the tasks everybody will have to complete after the meeting, (essentially any valuable details from that meeting) is always helpful to ensure nothing is forgotten. When you and your co-workers are in a flow state, your only job will be to discuss and plan everything without the fear that you will forget everything after the meeting.
The Note Taker will make sure to send a follow up with all the points and tasks that were discussed in the meeting to everybody via email.
An online connection can be messy at times. You don’t want to deal with technical issues in the middle of the meeting. Assigning someone who knows how to handle the technology in the meeting room (camera, platforms, audio tools, charts, etc.) to be the Producer can be helpful. They will make sure everything is working before and during the meeting.
If there’s a large video-in crowd, assign a second, remote Producer to handle those same technicalities.
Ensure everyone walks away with clear next steps. Ensure these steps are in line with and on course to the end goal. Consider sending an email summing up the main points of discussion and the agreed-upon actions.
Be sure to highlight the next meeting, should one be required. (A weekly/bi-monthly check-in would be a good idea). Take advantage of the “Next Steps” segment in our Agenda (See end of Article).
Investing in the right hardware and software can make the difference between a good meeting and a subpar meeting. Having the right technology can also reduce the gap between remote and in-office teams. They will be able to collaborate without any technical interruptions. Here are our tech recommendations:
Another tool we would like to shamelessly recommend, is the Door Tablet BOOKER. A management software for hot-desking. This allows Hybrid staff to book a few tables in order to meet with their teammates for assignments that teamwork is required. For the “smaller” meetings, especially for teamwork collaboration, check out BOOKER
Close the gap between the attendees in the office and those joining from home. Think beyond space, think about engagement, experience and making everybody feel included. This is where online tools can help your meeting:
There you have it, a full list of our tips on what adjustments and additions can make a difference to your in-person and hybrid meetings.
Hybrid meetings have opened a new way of collaborating within the organization and it gives your staff the opportunity to easily connect with their co-workers through online meetings. With the right tools and the right mindset, your company can move forward and build a new and hybrid workforce and workspace.
Door Tablet solutions can set your organisation up to manage the new workspace and help you on your journey to build the right space for your staff. Read more about our Safe Return to the Office Use Case here, and of course please check out our room booking software here.