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Keep Your Meetings Vital : Avoid Meeting Fatigue

Has there ever been a time when you have thought very seriously about having dental surgery or faking labor in order to avoid a meeting? Does the absentee rate take a bump up when a particular person schedules a meeting? Do you believe that you work with a larger than usual percentage of narcoleptics? These could all be signs of meeting fatigue, a malady characterized by desperation to never attend another meeting, and having attained an unusually high level on Candy Crush. Find out how to avoid meeting fatigue and increase everyone’s sense of satisfaction after the meeting.

Modern Meeting Perils and Pitfalls

When it seems like everyone is in a meeting, that’s an impression that isn’t too far off the mark. A recent Verizon white paper concludes that meetings have taken over American business life to the point where 37 percent of an employee’s time is spent in a meeting. That might not seem such a big deal, however the same study found that professionals attend over 60 meetings each month, and most of them can’t make every meeting where their presence seems to be required. Even more astounding, 91 percent admit to daydreaming and 39 percent have actually dozed off in a meeting. Does that sound necessary or even productive to you?

Meeting It Head-On

If you don’t believe that your staff needs to attend per month, it’s time to take a look at meeting culture and how it needs to be changed in order to enhance productivity instead of kneecapping it. You don’t need some top dollar consultant to administer a sound dose of common sense. Most meetings are not essential.

Yes. That’s right.

Most meetings have less to do with efficiency and productivity than they do with people who just want to hold a meeting. Some people are so in love with their ability to get people together in a room that they should never be allowed to call another meeting again. While this might irritate the people who brought you Candy Crush, will find that creating a culture of effective, efficient, and organized meetings will reengage with workers who may have previously just zoned out.

Forbes recommends that you determine if the meeting is really necessary, you identify the purpose of the meeting, and what alternatives you have for meeting your goal. It’s up to you to redefine what calls for meetings and what can be handled through other channels. Look at each meeting individually and ask if it could be handled in another way, such handling an update meeting with an email blast, a quick text chat, memos, or with a cloud-based application such as simple videoconferencing with Bluejeans.

Mean Business

Think about this; how long would your meetings be if everyone had to stand up? You would be surprised how much people can accomplish when they have to stand instead of sit. Naturally, you must make some accommodations for those with mobility problems, but studies have found that meetings where everyone is standing can take less time than those where everyone has parked their butts in a chair. Mandate that regular updates be in email form, or handled by a teleconference or videoconference that doesn’t require people to disrupt their workday. You can even invest in collaborative tools that allow multiple people to sign in and work in a cloud-based application such as Google Docs and Evernote.Finally, if you determine that a meeting is warranted all of these steps make it a good, positive, productive experience. The Holden Leadership Center at the University of Oregon recommends these steps.

  1. Define the purpose and goal of the meeting.
  2. Take the time to develop a comprehensive agenda and timetable for the meeting.
  3. Distribute the agenda ahead of time, and give all attendees access to relevant background material.
  4. In choosing the time and length of duration for your meeting, remember that your coworkers may have other commitments.
  5. Once you have chosen the meeting time, ask that participants please be on time or not to come at all.
  6. Serve light refreshments, and greet participants to make them feel welcome.
  7. Start on time, and begin with reviewing the agenda with everyone in the room.
  8. Stick to the agenda, but also encourage discussion and feedback. It is easy to wander off the topic so try to keep everyone focused.
  9. If you are not recording your meeting, have minutes taken for future reference in case of questions or difficulties.
  10. After the meeting, issue a summary and action notes. Make it clear that you will be following up on the actionable items with the appropriate people.

Above all, encourage people to give feedback on the meetings and how they can be improved, or whether they should simply be eliminated. You may find that you’re attending far fewer meetings, but accomplishing a great deal more.