A boring meeting is inevitably a loss of productivity.

Our mind wanders to other thoughts, we interact less and end up leaving the usual familiar faces to do the talking.

That’s just wrong!

An unproductive meeting is a waste of time, because it doesn’t improve the workflow and creates frustration among employees.

This phenomenon is further intensified in virtual meetings due to zoom fatigue. Video conferencing fatigue is a source of high stress levels in remote workers.

If meetings start to seem dull, it’s the manager’s duty to intervene to improve its efficiency. Here are some useful techniques to turn an unproductive meeting into a brilliant discussion.

1. Choose time and duration wisely

The best times to organise a meeting are mid-morning and mid-afternoon, depending on when participants enter and leave the office.

In this way, you can avoid the bad mood associated with the early hours of the day, post-lunch drowsiness and end-of-day fatigue.

Meetings shouldn’t be too long in order to avoid a decrease in the participants’ attention; if long meetings are inevitable, it will be necessary to program a few 5 minute breaks every 45 minutes.

2. Define the agenda and assign tasks (in advance)

The meeting agenda is a fundamental element for any type of meeting, as it allows organisation and puts all participants on a level playing field.

The programme should be detailed and sent to everyone in advance, and participants should be asked to brainstorm on certain issues before the meeting. Individual brainstorming avoids embarrassment during the meeting due to information gaps and encourages employees to come up with their own ideas.

3. Use the round-robin method

Both physical and virtual meetings often risk being monopolised by one or more voices, usually because of arrogance, charisma or – quite simply – company hierarchy. It’s useful in these cases to rely on the round-robin method: speakers alternate during the meeting phases and during discussion moments everyone is given a chance to speak.

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4. Organize standing meetings or moments of movement

Standing meetings are a common approach in companies that adopt lean programmes.

The benefits are different. The lack of comfort encourages people to decide quickly, reducing the length of meetings. Movement improves concentration and makes people more willing to share their ideas. Last but not least, there is the health related factor too: standing improves blood pressure and maintains optimal posture.

If there are only a few participants, the meeting can be held in a relaxation area with high tables. Alternatively, it is possible to divide the meeting between sitting (when note-taking is required, for example) and moving. Some companies even provide small training sessions during breaks between topics!

5. Include interactive activities in the agenda

Getting people involved is the first incentive for discussion. Provide for gamification moments, group or couple brainstorming sessions or surveys, and pay attention to all the team’s peculiarities.

If there are a lot of hierarchical disparities between participants, it’s useful to adopt the secret voting modality, to avoid fears or reticence from the latest arrivals.

There are many ways to make a meeting more productive, but one thing is certain: getting to know your team better is always the best starting point!

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