Unproductive meetings are becoming a real problem for businesses all over the world. Costing them both time and money, traditional meetings are completely lacking in focus and purpose, with a lack of prior communication resulting in poor planning and preparation. Inevitably, such vague agendas cause meetings to overrun and leave attendees wondering what they’re even doing there.
In fact, a recent European survey found that the average UK worker annually spends at least 13 days in unproductive meetings, while eShare report that unnecessary meetings are costing UK businesses a total of £191 billion a year. Of course, this is a cost you could probably do without—but the need for a meeting is often completely unavoidable.
After all, when they’re done right, meetings can prove essential in driving projects forward, enhancing collaboration and increasing employee engagement. Fortunately, advances in technology are helping businesses to streamline and enhance those meeting experiences, with WebEx Meetings and other video conferencing platforms opening them up to endless possibilities. So, how can this technology help to improve the productivity of your meetings?
Outline a Clear Agenda
Poor planning, preparation and organization are leading causes of unproductive meetings. Without effective prior communication, attendees will inevitably turn up to meetings completely unprepared, meaning they can’t get involved with the discussion and the entire meeting turns into a one-way presentation—which will certainly limit productivity.
The rise of technology, however, has made communicating with staff easier than ever, helping businesses to outline clear agendas and goals before the meeting has even started. Whether you use email, instant messaging or a cloud-based collaboration tool, the immediacy of modern technology ensures that all meeting participants will turn up fully-prepared.
Improve Organization with a Virtual Workspace
When a meeting has been poorly planned, a frightening amount of time is wasted on searching for relevant files; participants looking through countless folders for documents needed in the meeting. Although effective planning and structure are still essential towards hosting a productive meeting, the use of a virtual workspace will at least help sessions become much more organized.
By allowing meeting attendees to seamlessly view, share and edit relevant files in real-time, a cloud-based workspace helps them quickly access the files they need from one convenient place, and ensures that all team members are looking at up-to-date versions. Significantly reducing the amount of time spent searching for relevant information, virtual workspaces are guaranteed to boost productivity and ensure that all meeting participants are on the same page.
Keep Them Small
According to an infographic produced by Atlassian, 91% of meeting participants will daydream during sessions, while 39% actually admitted to falling asleep. In addition, almost half of all respondents claimed that unproductive meetings were the leading cause of wasted time in the workplace.
The problem lies in the fact that the average meeting just doesn’t inspire engagement or motivation, with larger meetings making it incredibly difficult for some participants to get involved at all. After all, there’s only one thing worse than listening to a dull, seemingly endless one-way presentation, and that’s a large group of people that continue to shout over each other and can’t agree on anything.
Modern meetings should only involve those that need to be there, since smaller groups typically find it much easier to work together and achieve results. Additionally, by leaving people out of the meeting, they’ll be able to spend the time more productively elsewhere, instead of joining the 91% that sit there daydreaming.
Embrace Flexible Working
Flexible working is on the rise. Now with almost 5 million people choosing to work from home in the UK alone, experts predict that over half of the UK workforce will be working remotely by 2020. Of course, your meetings need to embrace this sense of flexibility.
Face-to-face meetings can involve large amounts of travel and high expenses, while email and telephone platforms can often cause misunderstandings and miscommunication. Video conferencing, however, completely eradicates these issues, providing the benefits of face-to-face interaction without the need for regular travel.
The sheer flexibility of this platform allows colleagues, collaborators and clients to attend meetings from a place that best suits them, helping remote workers stay connected with the rest of their teams and strengthening working relationships. Significantly reducing unproductive travel times and preventing any delays, video conferencing allows teams to reach faster decisions and ultimately spend their time more productively.
Encourage Collaboration with Visual Platforms
Collaboration plays a huge role in the modern workplace, and businesses certainly need to place an emphasis on encouraging teams to work together. Collaborative projects and brainstorming sessions can often produce innovative new ideas, while working as part of a team will motivate employees and make them feel more engaged with the project.
By implementing more visual platforms, your meetings can go a long way towards encouraging this level of collaboration, with digital whiteboarding and shared workspaces making it easier for teams to work together. Allowing meeting participants to annotate and share relevant files in real-time, these platforms motivate them to become more active during sessions; inspiring creativity and ensuring the meeting is used to move the project forward.
Instead of asking participants to just sit and listen for an hour, such innovative technology will ensure the time is spent much more productively—regardless of whether attendees are based in the same room or on opposite sides of the world.