5 things NOT to do in a Meeting
Natalie Rice, Creative Director of Sagal Group, lays out the no-nos of post-pandemic meetings.
Meeting fatigue, that’s what I’d call it.
With the arrival of the pandemic and the sudden shift to WFH it dictated, I think most of us became fed up with meetings.
I know I was.
Even topics that wouldn’t have merited a meeting in the past, like getting John from accounts a caterpillar cake for his birthday, suddenly morphed into more formalised online meetings because of our scattered geography. Many of us found our days locked into interminable back-to-back online encounters that seemed to lead to little more than sensory overload, eye strain and exhaustion.
So, as Covid 19 restrictions are lifted and we re-enter our real-world office spaces, now seems a good time to examine the finer points of how meetings work. There seems little point in spending time on ensuring our offices become destinations that draw in our hybrid workforce, if we simply replace frustrating online meetings with their equally frustrating real-world equivalents. Here at Sagal, we wanted to address the many potential elephants in the (meeting) room and lay out ‘5 things NOT to do in a Meeting’:
Don’t Take All Day!
It’s so important to turn your office into a destination; somewhere hybrid workers want to be. Put bluntly, hybrid workers whose days are loaded with unnecessary meetings will probably decide that going into the office isn’t worth the commute. Ban 1 hour meeting slots. Get through your agenda and finish the meeting as soon as possible. Remember that attendees rarely find a meeting’s subject matter as stimulating as the organiser. Perhaps take a lesson from Zoom and have a countdown clock running when you meet – this will keep waffle to a minimum and ensure key points are covered in an efficient manner.
Don’t Bore Your Colleagues!
Any meeting organiser should ask themselves this question, will my colleagues gain from attending this meeting? If the answer is ‘No’, it’s time to assess why the meeting is being held. Would it be better as an email? Try to be ruthless, especially with PowerPoint slides. Remember to most people slides are the work equivalent of holiday snaps – only of interest to the person presenting them. If you’re simply reading out what’s written on the screen, consider sending the presentation to your team and scrapping the meeting completely. Trust us, they’ll thank you for it.
Don’t Pick the Wrong Space!
For attendees, the difference between a useful meeting and a complete ordeal can be as simple as the space in which a meeting takes place. Discussing even the most interesting of topics, when too many people are crammed into a badly air-conditioned meeting room, will not be a pleasurable experience for anyone. Similarly, going through the highly confidential elements of a team’s pay in a breakout space within a busy office is unlikely to end well. For some inspiration on the types of collaborative space your office needs, see our blog ‘We Need To Talk About Meeting Rooms’.
Don’t Allow Devices!
Banning devices from meetings may sound extreme, but it works. Why? Frankly, if your colleagues are scrolling, the meeting has failed. Depriving team members of their devices will add pace to proceedings. Everyone will be eager to move through the agenda with as little faffing about as possible – so they can return to their application fix. NB: If you get everyone to hand over their devices, make sure they’re left in a safe place. The levels of unpopularity that come from hosting a dull meeting are nothing compared to those directed at someone who lost everyone’s beloved devices.
Don’t Allow Grandstanding
Some people like the sound of their own voice – it’s as simple as that. At best, meeting attendees wasting everyone’s time stating the bloomin’ obvious can be frustrating, at worst (when others are being held back from pressing deadlines) it can be a complete nightmare. Rather than asking for questions, post-presentation, why not request any queries be sent to the organisers via email? Remember that ‘funny story’ you’re compelled to share may not be as entertaining, to a time-pushed team, as you think.
Must go, I’m off to a meeting. Don’t worry, I’ve got my stopwatch standing by.
Natalie Rice, Creative Director Sagal Group.
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