A recent study by Microsoft found managers spend around 12 hours a week in meetings. 69% of employees feel the meetings they attend are not productive. Billions are spent on meetings worldwide, with 13 billion of these happening annually.

Interestingly, there are a few common mistakes people (and companies) tend to make. This article will illustrate these.

Poor (or Lack of) Agenda

It’s always good to have a meeting agenda in advance, which has been communicated to prospective attendees. Be clear on what your goals and purposes are. Reasons for calling meetings can vary depending on the type of meeting: department meetings, staff meetings, training, and more.

No Purpose

Lack of a connection between a milestone and a meeting can cause the latter to fail. Most of the meetings you take part in should have calculable outcomes. In other words, progress needs to be made and assessed. The purpose of the meeting must be connected to the progress of one or more projects. Having an agenda is not enough: it should be conducive to the achievement of a certain goal.

Managers frequently fail to communicate the purpose of a meeting. Sometimes, the person who called it isn’t sure what it is themselves. Try to make the connection between the meeting agenda and the goals as clear as possible. If it isn’t, attendees aren’t going to be very motivated to participate.

You Don’t Stimulate Engagement

If the meeting involves a single person talking or an incessant series of presentations, it’s not likely to create engagement. Having a facilitator can prove pivotal. These professionals have the expertise to engage teams and get everyone to contribute. Greater engagement creates more energy and commitment.

Your Meetings Don’t Begin or End on Time

Very often, meetings start and end late. Inform your team in advance that the meeting will begin right on time. If someone comes late, expecting the meeting will have started late as usual, they’ll be in for a surprise. Show them things have changed. Try to finish meetings in less than half an hour. At any rate, commit to a given time frame. If you’re not able to achieve everything as planned, ask attendees if they would agree to extend the meeting. If not, schedule a follow-up meeting and stick to your plan.

No One is Keeping Minutes

Task an employee with keeping minutes or at least a general record of what transpires over the course of the meeting. To follow-up, email the minutes or other record to every team member involved.

You’re Dominating

We mentioned dominating attendees earlier. Sometimes not just one person, but several dominate. This makes for low morale and poor motivation on the part of those who aren’t as involved. People with relevant expertise can be most invested in a meeting, which is understandable, but not always desirable. It’s always better to have multiple viewpoints. A talented facilitator can help by involving all the team members present.

Sticking Too Close to the Plan

Sometimes, adhering to a plan too strictly can be just as bad as not having one at all. When a meeting is facilitated well, you might unearth new and exciting information. Going through every item on your agenda is not the point of a meeting. You should establish a target. This is best achieved when you’re open to more than one approach.

If an agenda isn’t working, change it. Do you sometimes struggle with an agenda during meetings? Most people do. Try asking participants for advice. They might be able to help, and you’ll get some time to think.

You Don’t Involve the Right People

The people who need to be present at a meeting sometimes aren’t there, while those who need to be working on something else are. In both situations, a meeting is not destined for an optimal outcome. Rushing ahead without influential and important stakeholders can spell out disaster for your organization. When you finally hear their voice, you may have wasted weeks working on the basis of incomplete information. Then, you and every other attendee at the original meeting will have to revise your work.

If the people you need aren’t there, just cancel the meeting. Over the long term, this approach can ensure higher productivity and improved outcomes.

You Don’t Have a Facilitator

We mentioned the benefits of a meeting facilitator earlier, which we’ll now elaborate upon. Not many organizations have employees who are sufficiently trained and experienced in facilitating. It takes a lot of practice and training to be able to run a meeting effectively. Facilitators have a series of critical skills, including the ability to listen, deal with conflicts on the spot, provide feedback, solve problems, design group input, help the group achieve consensus, and keep the meeting on track. The efforts of a facilitator can help increase team engagement and input, leading to more effective meetings and better decisions.

Sylvia Peters is a Collaborator for Find A Facilitator and a mother of two.

She’s also an expert to bringing the most credible, experienced and personable facilitation to every meeting she attended. In her free time you will find her meditating and making her favorite salad.

By Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles of partners on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to editor.webposts@gmail.com.

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