Step through the door of almost any business and you’ll discover meetings are a way of life. But ask people what they think about those meetings and you’ll soon discover competing camps.
Just look at the headlines below from respected business publications and you’ll see the range of opinions. Some think meetings are vital. Some agree, but think we’ve got to make them less awful to attend. And some think many meetings are useless and ought to be eliminated.
- The Three Reasons to Hold a Meeting (Wharton Magazine)
- The 7 Secrets to Make Meetings Less Awful (Fast Company)
- How to Finally Kill the Useless, Recurring Meeting (Harvard Business Review)
The fact is, there is some truth in all three positions. Meetings can indeed be vital. They can help you build and strengthen your team – especially if you have remote workers. They can help you explore a broader range of ideas and perspectives. And they can help you make faster, better-informed decisions that share support from a wider team.
But meetings are also pretty unpopular with the very people you want and need to engage. In one of countless surveys on the topic, about a third of UK office workers complained about meetings being too long and inefficient. Almost half say their mind wanders during meetings.
It’s also true that many of the meetings we schedule are useless and ought to be removed altogether. They’ve become more of a habit than an effective business tool – lacking focus and purpose.
So what’s the solution? Try this simple, two-fold strategy.
First, don’t get caught in a rut and meet just for the sake of meeting.
Take a hard look at how often you hold meetings and why you hold them. When a meeting is needed, keep it brief and on-point. Set an agenda. Offer everyone an opportunity to be involved and to have their say, but actively moderate to keep the discussion focused.
Second, adopt a cloud-based meeting and collaboration service.
These integrated suites of tools offer new ways to stay in touch and collaborate with remote team members. They let you dramatically reduce the number of face-to-face meetings you schedule. And they can make the meetings you do hold more engaging to attend. Here’s how:
- You get new video conferencing capabilities that make video calls as simple as a voice call. Everyone gathers in the same virtual conference room where they can see and be seen, and stay engaged. No more boredom or multitasking.
- You can share your desktop or a specific application and display web pages and documents during your conference. No more fumbling for the right file.
- New online team workspaces help you manage your team and keep everyone in sync between and during meetings. Simply drag, drop and organise the files you want to share. You can easily track tasks, due dates and the progress you’ve made on key projects. Rather than scheduling multiple meetings, you can quickly and easily collaborate online.
- Built-in intelligence tools serve up the precise information you need to prepare for every meeting, every call and every interaction. No more digging through your inbox or file folders to gather everything you need.
- Integrated chat capabilities make your voice and video conferences more interactive and productive. Participants can send you a quick question without interrupting the meeting flow. Or can quickly ping an expert who’s not on the call to get an answer to questions that crop up.
- Mobility tools make it easier for teams in the field and other remote workers to be meeting-ready. They can track all their meetings and launch or join them with a single click – using any smartphone, tablet or other mobile device.