Research has shown that most meetings are a major productivity killer.
“Researchers from Harvard Business School and Boston University surveyed 182 senior managers across industries and their results were telling: 65 percent of senior managers said that meetings keep them from completing their own work, 71 percent found them to be unproductive and inefficient and 62 percent stated that meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.” – CNBC make it
Even Elon Musk has shared his thoughts regarding meetings and other productivity rules with his Tesla employees which include: having fewer meetings, keeping them short, and only attend them if you are able to contribute.
However, meetings are necessary to convey/share important information.
We meet to share a client’s brief to a team, or a to get the go-ahead on important decisions from key people. Deciding how you meet and what you want to achieve with meetings can set the tone for the type of engagement to reach the desired outcome.
Keep meetings closed.
This is probably my favorite rule about meetings. What it means is, have a small meeting at a smaller table to focus the energy, rather than in a massive boardroom. Remove the extra un-occupied chairs around the table, to avoid the leaking of energy (Priya Parker, The art of Gathering). Close the door to minimize disruptions. Exclude people who do not need to be in the meeting.
The importance of choosing your setting and how it can facilitate interaction.
Convey your message or achieve your meeting goals in the most effective way, or in other words, the least clumsy way.
- If you are presenting ensure you have a big screen that is easy to connect your laptop/phone/tablet to that is positioned so that everyone can see. Close the door to keep distractions down.
- If you are having a virtual meeting with a dispersed team ensure your internet connection, audio and possibly a screen and camera are set-up to ensure everyone can see/hear each other and the presentation.
- If you are doing brainstorming or doing a demonstration remove obstructions between you and your audience, give you and them space to move. Create an informal, relaxed atmosphere that can promote creative thinking and idea sharing.
- It’s like building a puzzle: If your team is considering options, selecting colours, images, textures or have large plans, have a stand-up meeting at a tall table to easily add, compare and remove items from the table and everyone is free to move around. Studies have shown that standing meetings are, on average, 34% shorter than seated meetings (Turnstone 2017) which is ideal for team discussions.
- Round tables encourage sharing: “Communication should travel via the shortest path necessary to get the job done, not through the ‘chain of command’ – Elon Musk. Round meeting tables focus energy to the center and to the problem at hand and neutralises the power of the individuals around the table.
- In contrast, a meeting where negotiations and power play is key, a meeting in a more formal boardroom setting may be most suitable. Privacy is also important here due to the potential sensitivity of the information discussed.
- Client meetings in a work-lounge or reception lounge are less intimidating and send a more friendly signal.
To close, I want to reiterate Entrawood’s belief that a considered layout and purposefully selected furniture can play an essential role in the culture and success of a business.