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Science Shows How to Make Meetings Less Boring

Mohamad Danial bin Ab. Khalil
by Mohamad Danial bin Ab. Khalil
Oct 13, 2020 at 7:32 AM

Now and then someone has a new idea for how to make meetings more productive. But then there will be those who think such ideas are bad:

  • Impromptu meetings. The complaint: "I'm not prepared for a meeting! I need more time to prepare my notes!"
  • Standing meetings. The complaint: "I cannot stand for too long, I have a bad back!"
  • Walking meetings. The complaint: "I'm wearing 5-inch heels! I'm not walking a kilometer around the office!"

It all ends up with the whole department grouping around a table and chairs. Just like that, we're back to square one. Now, everyone will complain about the chair being uncomfortable, the absence of snacks, and someone who thinks they should not be in the meeting.

It's about time that we refer to science to help us on how to have productive meetings. In his book, "The Surprising Science of Meetings." Steven Rogelberg has a few suggestions:

Here are his findings:


1. Rank your Agenda. 

Meeting agenda items must be carefully ranked based on strategic importance. Research shows that early agenda items receive far more attention in meetings.

meeting of employees
Only involve those who really need to be there.

2. Don't hold your coworkers hostage. 

Do you have a weekly meeting that is pretty much the same every week? Instead of the wash, rinse, repeat cycle, try sending out information to everyone to consider then giving five minutes to answering any questions about it. 


3. Remote meetings are not good. 

Nowadays, everyone should know how remote meetings can be extra challenging, despite its necessity. It's easy for us to fade away in the background. If you're the meeting host, you have to make sure everybody is involved in the discussion. 


4. The schedule should not control the meeting. 

Your daily schedule might block 30 or 60 minutes for a meeting, but you don't need to follow it. If you can, estimate how long the meeting will take 50 minutes or maybe 15 minutes. Then, try to reduce it by 5 minutes. According to Rogelberg, when people are under pressure, they will focus more and be more productive. 


5. You don't need to brainstorm loudly. 

Allow participants to write their ideas on paper, you'll end up collecting more ideas. You won't spend most of the meeting listening to one person expanding on one idea or everyone just agreeing the boss' idea.

a meeting
A silent brainstorming session can be very productive.

6. Involve important people only. 

Try to reduce the number of participants in a meeting to as few as possible. You will waste more time when you involve unnecessary participants; you will also waste their time.


7. Be a kind host. 

If you are leading a meeting, you should know that you are borrowing people's time from work. As a result, they might feel inconvenienced to go to your meeting. If you want a productive meeting, you will need to be a good host and make it enjoyable. Be welcoming and show appreciation to the employees who are attending. 

And that's how you can create a less boring meeting and achieve more!

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Source: On The Job 

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