Many online sources say that in-person meetings are becoming extinct as the age videoconferencing thrives, but don’t buy into the claim that millennials have some strong aversion to face-to-face contact. Humans are social creatures, and although meetings can be dull, all generations appreciate one-on-one interaction.
The truth is that the newer generations in the workplace only have a strong aversion to boring and unnecessary meetings, and we should thank them (and technology) for stepping up and demanding a change. Here are seven tips to resurrect your meetings from aversions to being awesome.
Quality Not Quantity
A lot of the discussion leading up to a formal meeting can be worked out with e-mail exchanges, instant messages, or impromptu get-togethers. Meetings should never be held for the sole purpose of sharing information–a meeting should center on a discussion that will be more effective in real time and provide an authentic opportunity for people at all levels of the project to collaborate. Learning to determine whether you need to hold a meeting can save time, money, and motivation in the workplace.
Make Progress Not Chitchat
Meetings are where progress is made and where business gets done but listening to long-winded descriptions, simmering grievances, and indecision quickly sucks the attention and motivation out of the room. The overall goal is to keep things moving forward while giving all the attendees a way to participate and keep them engaged.
A productive meeting brings a group of people together for a specific purpose, provides a forum for collaboration (not grievances) and ends with a decision and a shared understanding of the work ahead.
Leadership doesn’t come naturally to everybody, but a meeting needs a confident and calm voice to keep the meeting progressing toward results, not indecision. Our culture has become more accustomed to instant gratification in our personal life, and we want to see rapid results and satisfaction in our business meetings too. Assigning a person to hold the leadership role and facilitate the meeting is a fun way of letting employees try new roles, but only if they are willing and capable of the task.
Make sure the meeting’s agenda is designed to achieve the goal and be mindful not to venture off topic for too long or dive too deep into unproductive discussions. Create a “parking lot” on the whiteboard for a place to capture ideas, topics, and questions that are out of scope for the moment to keep the meeting moving forward.
Collaborate Not Lecture
Nobody (well maybe a few) people appreciate a one-sided lecture-type meeting, and it’s been proven that those types of meetings are less effective than ones that include interaction among attendees and speakers. A meeting should be made up of a group with diverse knowledge and perspectives, and to take full advantage of the attendees, make sure everyone is (and feels) heard. Don’t forget to ask the new hire how things look from their fresh point of view, and you will be surprised what insights can come to light.
Remember to keep the meeting on point and If one person starts to dominate the room, consider asking them to take notes to put them in a listening role, and to provide the rest of the group more chances to speak.
Take It Outside
One of the easiest ways you can make your meetings more exciting is to get creative and switch up the venue as often as you can. Schedule an off-campus meeting once a month at a coffee shop you can walk to as a group, introducing a bit of novelty and fun. Taking a few laps around the property for a walking meeting can help walk off anxiety, fight fatigue, and keep all parties engaged and interested.
No one likes to sit through meetings, but not expecting where and how the meeting will take place will keep your employees curious and wanting to attend.
Millennials are not the only generation attached to technology and social media. Many people enjoy interacting in a group, value personal connections, and like to post pictures of it on social media.
Automating the meeting schedule and registration will have many employees committing sooner and more likely to attend because online confirmations are often linked to mobile calendars. Consider recording the meeting and making it available via the intranet for viewing for recaps or employees unable to attend.
In conclusion, meetings are expensive, so you want them to be as productive as possible. Be thoughtful about who is invited and create a group that brings diverse perspectives and knowledge about the topic. Create a forum for everyone to share their thoughts and keep the meeting moving forward.
Let go of the old paradigm of how meetings have been conducted and use your imagination, innovation, and experimentation to keep your meetings engaging, inspiring, and productive.