5 Characteristics of a Productive Staff Meeting

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Meetings in the workplace might seem like a fairly benign issue at first glance. But every block of time adds up—especially when you consider the collective impact of asking employees to interrupt their daily job duties for regular meetings.

Consider the fact that the average worker spends 31 hours a month preparing for meetings and attending them.

Furthermore, many meetings fall short of true efficiency and productivity. It’s common for meeting participants to walk out of the room feeling—either overtly or covertly—that the session they just sat in on accomplished very little.

Employees may start to perceive ineffective meetings as unnecessary, repetitive, unfocused or simply dull.

Does your organization want to get the most out of meetings? Start by striving to exhibit these five characteristics of a productive staff meeting.

#1: Someone Leads with Purpose

Have you ever found yourself staring around the table at other meeting attendees as the clock hits the start time, all waiting for someone else to break the ice? This is a recipe for a directionless, possibly confusing conference.

As one Forbes contributor writes, “It’s not always easy to be the one ensuring things are moving along, but someone has to be accountable for running meetings that don’t suck.”

Make sure every meeting has a moderator or task-master of sorts. This person will primarily make sure the meeting proceeds according to its agenda and keep an eye on time, helping the meeting run smoothly from start to finish.

#2: Length Matches Meeting Objectives

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Some status report meetings need only be 5 to 10 minutes. All-hands meetings tend to run longer because they’re highly attended and less frequent.

Meetings with a training component tend to require participants to invest more time, while weekly team meetings are more straightforward.

The key takeaway here is that the length of the meeting should match its objectives. Holding participants longer than necessary is a waste of everyone’s time, while rushing through meetings is a surefire way to puzzle and frustrate employees.

Find the sweet spot in which information gets its due in a conducive format, therefore achieving the overarching meeting objectives.

#3: Participants Are Engaged, Not Distracted

The length of your meeting matters little if participants are disengaged with the subject matter at hand and its presentation.

Here are a few staff meeting ideas for cutting down on distractions and ramping up employee engagement:

  • Ask a thought-provoking question to kick off every meeting to grab attention.
  • Run an interactive question-and-answer poll to crowdsource group feedback.
  • Turn quick update meetings (15 minutes or less) into “standups.”
  • Start out strong with a creative icebreaker to facilitate bonding.
  • Transition between various presentation styles every few minutes.

There are plenty of ways to keep meetings fresh and interesting for participants, which in turn encourages employees to actively engage so they can better retain key concepts.

#4: Meeting Includes Only the Necessary People

Put it this way: Nobody should be wondering “Why am I here?” during a staff meeting.

Limit invitees to those who will genuinely benefit from the information being discussed. Omit people who don’t absolutely need to be in attendance.

Smaller meetings tend to be more productive, anyway.

#5: Everyone Leaves Understanding The Next Steps

Most importantly, everyone should walk out of the room understanding the action items they need to complete.

Meetings are meant to be catalysts for action—so make it clear what each person should take from a session and exactly what they need to do before the next one.

Productive staff meetings demonstrate these five characteristics because they enforce timeliness, participation and leadership.

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