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Another Meeting? How to Stop Boring Your People at Work

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

"Let's start by conserving our time and stop having these stupid meetings. No more meetings! No more meetings!" – Pam from the Office




Meetings are critical for an effective workplace but often can become monotonous and unengaging. We all have experienced the dreaded virtual meeting where people stare blankly at the screen, check their phones, and "accidentally" turn off their cameras.



What about the mandatory weekly conference room meeting that never starts or finishes on time, repeating the same information discussed seven days ago?


Have you ever wanted to stand up and yell like Pam Beasley as your co-worker Stanley smiles with glee?



Don't fret! There are ways to enhance engagement, foster creativity, and keep people curious about what will happen next! There are ways to make meetings less boring! The most common and effective way to combat boring meetings is to set clear objectives and an agenda.


Allow me to explain before you laugh and say I am oversimplifying the problem. 😁



First, by clearly stating what needs to be accomplished and providing a roadmap for discussion, attendees can understand the purpose and importance of the meeting, making it easier for them to stay engaged.


When engaged, they will be more likely to pose questions, respond to calls for ideas, and insert feedback as necessary. When the agenda is provided in advance, your team can prepare their thoughts and suggestions while connecting the meeting's relevance to their current role.



A clear agenda also helps avoid "rabbit hole" discussions and topic jumping, which would inevitably cause your session to run longer than expected.



For example, if I am asked to attend a team meeting without a clear agenda, I will decide within the first few minutes if it will be helpful and applicable to my current priorities. If I determine it isn't, I will appear attentive while thinking about my weekend plans and grocery list. You will have lost me.


In contrast, I will be less likely to judge the totality of the meeting by the initial objective if I understand what will be occurring afterward. Every session should have goals that connect with the people in attendance and feel important to their day-to-day job. If they don't, said people should not be in the meeting.


Next, interactive tools can help maintain an attendee's interest and attention. For instance, incorporating collaborative activities like polls, quizzes, or breakout sessions will encourage active participation and prevent meeting fatigue. Icebreaker activities, brainstorming sessions, mini team building challenges, and relevant media can help shake up the monotony of meetings.



Often, the meeting leader wants to jump headfirst into what they deem essential; however, if your team is close-minded and distracted, much of what is discussed will be overshadowed by what the attendees believe is more important to them. Thus, challenging them to think, strategize, and connect with their team early in the meeting will produce dividends when it is time to address some of the more cumbersome or essential objectives. In short, make the thing fun.


Another crucial aspect to address is the length and frequency of meetings. Prolonged and frequent meetings can quickly lead to fatigue and reduced productivity. Recurrent meetings are good for consistency but not engagement, especially if the attendees believe you are just going through the motions.


To combat this, it is essential to keep sessions concise, focused, and tied to something your attendees must accomplish in the short term. Limiting the meeting's duration and avoiding unnecessary tangents can help maintain participants' attention and prevent boredom. Connecting a task to the meeting's content will encourage increased focus and question-asking.


In other words, statements such as, "What we decide today goes into effect in 2 weeks" will be more likely to grab the attendee's attention than "At some point in the future, we will implement these ideas."


Now that we have discussed some practical suggestions, it's time to get wild. 😁



If your situation calls for drastic measures, I suggest changing the format entirely, such as making it a stand-up or walking meeting!



As the name suggests, this format involves participants standing rather than sitting, which helps to increase energy and focus. Stand-up meetings are typically shorter, as participants are less likely to ramble on while standing. By keeping the participants on their feet, information is shared more efficiently, and decisions are made more swiftly, increasing productivity.


A walking meeting takes place outside. Participants meet outdoors while discussing business matters instead of confined to a stuffy office. Walking meetings have proven to be particularly effective in sparking creativity and problem-solving. The change of scenery and gentle physical activity can stimulate the brain and encourage innovative ideas. Additionally, walking meetings promote a more relaxed and informal atmosphere, fostering better relationships and communication among participants.


In the end, meeting fatigue has always existed and was amplified during COVID-19 due to the transition to virtual platforms and the uptick in meetings themselves. However, individuals can create an engaging and focused meeting environment by setting clear objectives, including activities, limiting meeting duration, changing the meeting format, and encouraging active participation.


In short, that Monday meeting doesn't have to be boring, and Pam Beasley doesn't need to organize a revolt amongst attendees.


Have fun.



Disclaimer

*Statements on this blog reflect the author's personal opinions and do not represent any other person, company, or organization. The purpose of this blog is general knowledge and to bring awareness to tools, techniques, people, and organizations that bring about positive change. The reader is strongly encouraged to perform independent research about the topics discussed.

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