Let’s face this, everyone has been through boring meetings that, in your opinion, was a total waste of time. Research has shown that 15% of an organisation’s collective time is spent in meetings. To put this in context, imagine a company with 1,000 employees drawing an average salary of $4,000 a month. That’s an astounding $600,000 worth of time spent on meetings every single month. This shows how important it is to get meetings right. Why, then, do people still struggle to conduct effective meetings?
Here are some key barriers to a productive & creative meeting and my suggestions on how to counter them:
Barrier #1: People turning up late
One thing about Finns that I really admire is their punctuality. While it is common (not acceptable) for Singaporeans to be 5-10 minutes late for social events, turning up late for meetings is a big no-no. It shows disrespect for your colleagues and you are wasting the time of those who bothered to come on time. One key way to counter this is to make latecomers sing a song or pay a fine. As amateur as this may sound, you will be surprised just how effective this method is and who knows, morning singing could lead to your next big idea!
Barrier #2: Convenient/boring meeting venues
While many companies (regardless of size) have their own meeting rooms in their offices, I always avoid having meetings that are more than 2 hours within the office premise. You are bound to sneak out to answer that one phone call or one “urgent” email or you will miraculously have something so urgent that you must see your superior immediately. All these happen only because you are still in the office. Imagine you are whisked away to Sentosa island or the other end of Singapore. All of a sudden, that so-called urgent matter can wait till tomorrow. Also, being put in a room with 4 walls and regular office furniture – how creative can you expect one to be? Children often learn best when they are playing and that principle applies to adults too. When we are put in a relaxed and fun environment, you will be surprised how much it stimulates our minds and boosts creativity. If you need a creativity meeting venue, check out HUONE.
Barrier #3: Poor time management
When it comes to meeting durations, less is more. The most creative ideas come out of meetings that are short, effective and to the point. I am still learning to do this well but do set aside time for different agenda of the meeting and be disciplined with time management. While researching on how companies have taken a step ahead to boost creativity and productivity of meetings, I came across a company that conducts their meetings standing because attendees “feel a shared purpose to get things done”. On the wellness end, standing improves metabolism, making one more alert, and excessive sitting has been found to be correlated with many chronic illnesses.
Barrier #4: Distractions
We live in the digital age and I can easily point out 10 friends who will “die” without their mobile phones. Many people (guilty as charged) think they can read a text or scroll through the news while listening to someone speak during a meeting but the truth is, we really can’t multitask. Research has shown that when you multitask, your brain is essentially switching back and forth between both (or more) tasks. Get rid of technology like laptops and mobile phones during the meeting and if you need to take notes, use the traditional method – paper and pen. On a side note, I have tried getting my team to brainstorm new ideas while coloring and it seems to promote active listening and our meeting ended an hour early because our AHA-moment came sooner than expected!
Barrier #5: Repetition, repetition, repetition
I notice during meetings (and sometimes during panel discussions) that people like to paraphrase or repeat the same points. Whether it is to reiterate the importance of a point, or simply to sound smart (research has shown that it actually works), it impedes the creativity process. We have a set of NO REHASH signs for brainstorming sessions where attendees can raise these signs to call out repeated or recycled points. A word of caution though – this is only effective if you have an open and flat-hierarchy culture within the team that makes everyone feel comfortable to flag out rehashing without feeling like they have offended the other party.
Meetings can be as creative and fun as you make them so let loose and let your creative juices ooze at your next meeting! If You need help on creating the right kind of atmosphere, contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org.