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7 indispensable tips: if you want to hold effective meetings, read here

Hand on heart: If you were to describe the meeting culture in your workplace, which of these two statements would you choose?

A) All meetings held at my workplace can be described as effective meetings.


B) A significant part of the meeting time goes with different variants of loose talk and does not always lead to anything

The two possible answers are put at the forefront, but the fact is that many Danes can recognize their workplace in statement B. A number of studies confirm the gloomy suspicion: Not all meetings are effective meetings.

How do you hold effective meetings?

Take this survey conducted by HK Privat. The results were published in May 2019 based on responses from 350 members. Eight out of ten answered that they spend several hours each week on regular meetings, but some of the meetings are a waste of time.

Think about how much time is lost. And consider the difference a more effective meeting culture could have on the bottom line. The good news is that we can get a lot more out of our precious meeting time. It just requires effort: we simply need to get better at holding meetings.

Better to hold meetings? Exactly. Here are seven essential tips to help you make your business more effective. Enjoy.

1. Help each other help the meeting chair

The chair of the meeting is the most important individual for the effective meeting. If the meeting leader has a productive meeting, your company is guaranteed a good return on the invested meeting time. Practically speaking.

But far from all meeting leaders are experienced meeting leaders, and there is actually a really good explanation for that. According to the Worker Survey from Microsoft, the number of teams that each employee is part of has increased fivefold in the period 2013-2018. More teams means more meetings without a decidedly experienced chair.

Therefore, companies must establish a meeting culture where all meeting participants take responsibility for helping the meeting chair. For example like this:

  • Give feedback to the chair. And preferably after the meeting, so that the chair of the meeting avoids an unpleasant experience in front of the other meeting participants. Criticism should be polite and constructive. Ask about what you can do to help the facilitator facilitate a better meeting.
  • Focus on the agenda. This is a common task: All employees in a company are responsible for ensuring that the meeting agenda is complied with. It is not only the responsibility of the chair of the meeting.
  • Contribute constructively. Regardless of whether the chair of the meeting handles his task optimally or not, the individual employee is responsible for his contribution. An inexperienced chairperson is not an excuse.

2. Adhere to the start time - always

As the number of meetings increases, the risk of collectively poor meeting habits in the workplace increases. The two most common: Lack of punctuality and lack of preparation.

Adhering to a start time sounds banal, but we probably all know it. Both even being late and having to wait for a colleague. Emphasize the importance of a meeting culture where internal meetings are respected to the same degree as meetings with customers and partners.

Here punctuality is not just important. It is a matter of course. If delays are widespread in your workplace, it could indicate that employees have too many meetings in the calendar. And do not necessarily see the value in them all.

Skewed meeting times are gaining ground

Incidentally, several companies are experimenting with skewed meeting times. Calendar systems usually operate with two standard lengths on meeting bookings: half an hour and a full hour. Here, companies can advantageously adjust the settings so that the standards are changed to 20 minutes and 50 minutes instead.

Most meetings start at full or half past one. It just provides a buffer of ten minutes so people can reach from one meeting to the next without delay. If they notice, they have two meetings in continuation of each other.

3. Effective meetings are about preparation

In all effective meeting cultures, the following applies: Meeting leaders and meeting participants are well prepared.

The chair of the meeting must know the agenda to the letter. The meeting participants ask a few days before the meeting how they can best prepare e.g. what material they should familiarize themselves with before the meeting.

Thus, of course, the meeting participants must also have time to prepare. If this is not possible, the meeting is hardly particularly important for the company.

4. Effective meetings are not a competition

In 2015, a sensational study from Rambøll confirmed what many had probably suspected: Internal competition in the workplace is not an unconditional strength. On the contrary. The power struggles actually wear on the employees. Good ideas are thwarted on the basis of personal vanity. Cooperation is weakened. Opportunities are wasted.

Nowhere in the workplace is this more pronounced than at meetings. Who has not attended a meeting that develops into a dispute over words, attention and honor. Here it is the competitive mentality that stands in the way of the effective meeting.

Therefore, companies should articulate a meeting culture where employees follow three simple principles:

  • Focus on your own messages
  • Enter into the discussions that pertain to you and your tasks
  • Avoid pettiness and discussions that do not relate to the agenda

5. Play with your surroundings

Most meetings take place in a regular meeting room. It is completely natural and in itself unproblematic. That said, most companies should experiment a bit more with alternative meeting locations.

For example, it could be the park next to your office or the café or restaurant down the corner. For the very special meeting, you could try something even more unusual: a foreign city or a BusinessCruise.

New surroundings inspire the meeting participants. Different locations highlight the unique opportunity that meeting participants have right now and here. An opportunity to hold a particularly efficient and productive meeting. For example, come perfectly from land with a new strategy. The importance of a meeting simply becomes more intrusive when the meeting takes place in a unique location.

British businessman Richard Branson is famous for abhorring traditional meetings and meeting locations. Powerpoint presentations and conference rooms can make anyone fall asleep, he claims. According to Richard Branson, the meeting location has a big impact on ideas and thought patterns.

The Virgin billionaire also believes that the best meetings take place standing and last a maximum of ten minutes. You can also choose to try it out.

6. When the meeting is over

We have a lot of focus on the preparations and the actual holding of the meeting, but what about the time after the meeting? Researchers from the University of Nebraska and Clemson University in the United States have analyzed 200 relevant studies to develop a real recipe for the effective encounter. The analysis shows that the time after the meeting is extremely crucial for the overall meeting yield.

It writes the American business media Quartz. Based on the analysis, the researchers recommend the following action plan after the meeting:

Immediately after the meeting

  • The chair of the meeting must send a short report to the meeting participants. Decisions and division of tasks are especially important to confirm in writing.
  • The chair of the meeting must collect a short and effective feedback at the meeting: What experience did the participants have of the quality and productivity of the meeting?

In the long run

  • Assessment of meeting quality must be included as a fixed point in satisfaction surveys among the company's employees. Including gathering suggestions on how the quality of meetings can be improved
  • All employees who act as meeting leaders in their daily work must have the opportunity to provide feedback on the fixed meeting structures in the company.

7. Less is more

Another startling observation from researchers at the University of Nebraska and Clemson University in the United States: When it comes to meetings, less is truly fun. On several levels.

The researchers' recommendations are as follows:

  • Hold only those meetings that are absolutely necessary
  • Meetings should be as short as possible and try to avoid long meetings as much as possible
  • Limit the number of meeting participants to a minimum

It is, in fact, the most important rule to write behind the ear: Few but effective meetings are the way forward. And it pays off to a great extent: Researchers estimate that the average American spends six hours a week on meeting activities.

Imagine if the same thing applies to your employees. A more effective meeting culture would make a huge difference to the overall bottom line.



Do you want more out of your meetings? Give yourself and your colleagues a daily reminder of the recipe for the good meeting with this poster, which lists 9 main rules for an effective meeting culture in the workplace.

Download the poster now

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