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5 ways to create better meetings

Meetings. We all have them. From flip charts to PowerPoints, meetings serve an important purpose to bring ideas together, share information and move strategy forward. But are your meetings deathly dull? Poorly run meetings can stifle innovation and even lower your team’s engagement!

Here are five ways to make your meetings more effective, fun and inspiring.

1. Consider your attendees

“Why am I here?” It’s the dreaded question you never want your meeting participants to ask themselves. Most people view lost productivity like air leaking from a tire. Don’t let your meeting be the nail that lodges itself into the tire. Instead, be thoughtful about your meeting attendees.

By having the wrong people in the room (or on the phone), you risk turning people off from the beginning by covering content that isn’t relevant to them. Be choosy about your attendees and consider if your meeting needs to be a meeting at all.

2. Don’t use PowerPoint unless it’s necessary

According to Jon Petz, author of “Boring Meetings Suck,” PowerPoint represents “the single greatest abuse when it comes to making meetings suck.” When you’re building your next slide deck, keep in mind that the purpose of PowerPoint is to use slides to enhance your presentation — to enhance you.

Your PowerPoint is not the presentation, but you are! Your slides should be light on text and include graphics that support your key points. Never ever just read bullet points on a slide to your attendees; that is the true definition of “death by PowerPoint.”

3. Keep your meetings short

Most of us are probably familiar with TED talks. In just 18 minutes or less, a presenter shares a personal experience or other details on a particular topic. But why 18 minutes? According to science, 10 to 18 minutes is the average attention span of most people. Work also tends to expand to the whole time you have scheduled a meeting for. In other words, you’ll likely accomplish the same in a 30-minute meeting versus 60 minutes.

Former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer was notorious for keeping her meetings to just 10 minutes to accommodate her busy schedule. A lot can be accomplished in a short period of time, so keep your meetings short!

4. Leave the conference room

Looking to foster creative thinking and new ideas? Move your meeting out of a conference room, which can be sterile and well, blah. Having a one-on-one meeting? Go for a walk. One study found that walking improves creativity. Perhaps meet in a courtyard or take it to a local coffee shop.

Can’t get out to someplace new? Take away the chairs in a conference room for a “standing meeting” and utilize the whiteboard or flip charts to keep things lively. People who are standing get moving quickly with their thoughts.

5. Make your meeting “potluck-style”

Just as a traditional potluck meal spreads ownership of a meal among all those invited to the dinner party, finding ways to make everyone feel invested in your meeting will pay off big time, too. Ask your coworkers what they want your meetings to look like.

Encourage your teammates to share their ideas and opinions and try giving everyone a task. For example, have someone serve as a note-taker, have someone else lead the discussion, or ask for input on the meeting agenda. Taking these small steps will help ensure that everyone feels invested in what you’re trying to accomplish.

In addition to these five tips, don’t forget to avoid other annoying meeting behavior, like scheduling over someone’s booked time, or scheduling a meeting that doesn’t work well for our colleagues in different time zones (over lunch, during the morning commute, etc.).

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