The price of buying someone’s time is to provide them with some sort of benefit. In the meeting industry, the currency is generally knowledge. There is something you wish to convey. But if people don’t think your meeting will be worth their time, they will either not pay much attention or not show up at all. Thus, the purpose of even having a meeting is lost. Even though you have something you deem important to share with them, it is still your burden to get them to come and participate. Here are 5 things that should be avoided if you want a productive meeting (with good attendance):
- Meetings without agendas and facilitators. A hodgepodge meeting leaves lots of room for distraction. It is important to choose a good facilitator that can keep everyone focused and guide the group through the agenda. Speaking of agendas, send it out beforehand so that participants can come prepared. It’s the map that leads you from the very first word until dismissal.
- Providing the wrong refreshments. The snacks make the meeting. Providing a lot of sugar will give everyone focus for a little while, until they all crash and are in worse shape than before you started. But it isn’t just about the grams of sugar. Another thing to keep in mind is the labor and messiness of the food. If there is assembly required, you will definitely have people more focused on putting together their treat than listening to the speaker. Not to mention, messes draw a lot of attention and then take time to clean up.
- Basing the meeting length on topics instead of time. Too many meeting planners do not designate a time length for their meeting. Instead, they continue the meeting until all topics have been covered. This leaves participants checking the clock, wondering how much longer before they can leave. If you didn’t get your point across in the time allowed, then that is your own fault. Everyone else does not owe you the extra time. Having a time frame also keeps the meeting moving, making for more productivity and less useless pauses. If discussion halts the closure of the agenda, then schedule a follow-up meeting.
- Inviting too many people. Large crowds of people in a discussion-based setting are a lot harder to control. Only bring in those whom the meeting affects. These are the ones whose opinions you are looking to hear anyway. Plus, larger groups make it harder for everyone to feel like they are being heard, because there are too many competing voices.
- Keeping things casual. It is hard to be productive about something you are not taking seriously. Attendees should feel comfortable, but too much so and they are going to occupy themselves with other things, like phones. That is also when you get people coming in late and leaving early. Let them know the importance of this meeting.