The average British employee will endure a staggering 6,240 meetings over the course of a working lifetime. So it’s worrying that recent research reveals three out of five workers think meetings are pointless and held ‘for the sake of it’. On that basis, it’s hardly surprising that 70% admit to regularly zoning out in meetings and one in five claim to have fallen asleep. And this lack of attentiveness can have serious consequences: one in five confess to having made a mistake (a quarter of them ‘monumental clangers’) due to lack of mental presence in meetings.
It’s not that meetings per se are obsolete to today’s businesses, but we’re all guilty to some extent of failing to take an active enough role, whether as organisers or participants, to make them worthwhile. To improve your meetings, first, you need to know how to identify what type of spell everyone is under.
The “déja vu” curse
The problem with regular meetings is that there just isn’t enough material to sustain them, so everyone’s doomed to rehash the same minor points, even if there’s nothing new to say. Little wonder participants tend to drift off.
The “blurred lines” curse
Get-togethers should be used to thrash out problems and solutions but typically, action points just don’t get given priority by attendees after the event – often because people see meetings as ancillary to what’s happening on the ground in business.
The “off piste” curse
When there’s no agenda, no structure and no single person responsible for facilitating a meeting, delegates can fall into the trap of treating face time as a “break time” – discussing anything and everything other than the issue at hand.
The “OTT” curse
Meeting overkill is a plague on companies, with staff pulled away from their desks and profit-making tasks to listen to others talk about, rather than do their jobs. And in an average meeting of 10 delegates, research shows that six of them don’t think they should be there.
Once you identify these types of bad meetings, it’s easier to take positive action – as an organiser or as an attendee – to redeem meetings as a business tool. After all, you wouldn’t go into an interview with your bank manager or prospective employer unprepared, so why do the same at work?
To find out how you can make meetings matter and break these common curses without having to kiss any frogs, read our eBook: Break the curse of useless meetings.