You know that moment when the wheels start to come off your meeting. People begin looking at their phones and start having side conversations. The murmur interrupts and distracts from the “main” conversation. And before you know it, people are excusing themselves to move on to more important things.
You ask yourself, “What happened? How did my meeting descend into disarray and confusion?!”
I’ve found these 5 things to be the most common causes of meeting disorder:
1) Your objective is not clear. You have to state clearly up front why you are all assembled… and what you want from the group discussion.
2) Your objective is not relevant to the whole group. Don’t invite people who have no real stake in what gets discussed. They will be the first to get antsy. Allow people to exit after they hear the objective if they cannot add value.
3) You do not have real discussion. A one-way lecture is the easiest way to send your participants to multi-tasking land. Call on others to talk frequently and invite even the quiet ones to voice their opinions for all to hear.
4) Your meeting is too long. Cut it in half. In fact, never schedule more than 30 minutes for any meeting, and allow 30 minutes afterwards for follow-up on agreed action items back at their desks.
5) You are boring. You own this time slot and your energy will determine the energy in the room. Start on time, be enthusiastic and have some fun. If you need some help in this area, I recommend hiring a communication coach.
The first step to curing these disorders is to realize you have them. Ask your team members in private about how you can make your meetings more productive. Nothing is more precious than time these days. They will appreciate that you care about they are forced to spend it.