It appears the average meeting is messed up. It doesn’t have a purpose, which leads attendees to be unfocused and stressed. Meetings occur too little or too often. They’re too rigid or too loose. And with 80 percent of all U.S. meetings having fewer than 50 attendees, it’s vital these meetings have the essential ingredients attendees are craving.
Here’s the latest research on meetings, suggestions about ways to improve the process and ways the Kalahari Resorts and Conventions staff can help you in the planning and execution of your event.
What the Research States
Research from The Economist Intelligence Unit of 187 enterprise executives found:
- Top management spends 21 hours a month in team meetings, of which only 20 percent of the meeting is devoted to long-term strategy.
- Each meeting is generally less than 4 hours in length.
- Only 12 percent believed their meetings consistently produced important strategic decisions.
- 5 percent had a process for developing a valuable, attendee-focused agenda. This often led to meetings running late and key strategic issues being unaddressed.
A recent British Psychological Society poll found that $37 billion could be lost annually due to unproductive meetings.
Last, Wacom surveyed 1,000 people about their thoughts regarding meetings. Here’s what they found:
- 63 percent stated that taking notes by hand enabled them to be more creative and productive.
- 57 percent felt their meetings were unproductive.
- 43 percent admitted they tuned out in meetings, often working on other projects while in them.
- 37 percent believed meetings would be more engaging if laptops were not allowed into them.
- 21 percent confessed they had fallen asleep in a meeting.
So … What’s the Solution?
Given all this feedback, it looks like the future of meetings is dim. But it doesn’t have to be. Follow these suggestions, and your meetings will become much more productive with a measurable outcome, every time.
- Conduct longer strategy meetings.
It’s clear from the research; longer meetings need to be dedicated to the long-term vision of the company or association. Whether this is monthly, quarterly or annually, these meetings are best served off-site where distractions can be kept to a minimum. One to two days are optimal in length.
- Decide on your intended outcome.
Meetings should serve one of three purposes:
- Information and education
- Debate and discussion
While you can cover all three in a meeting, attendees are more engaged when they know only one of these areas will be addressed and what’s expected of them in advance of the meeting.
- Create a prioritized agenda.
Once you know the desired outcome, create an agenda that meets that outcome. Remember, individuals have a limited time to give to you before they “check out.” If the discussion hits the most important items in descending order, no one will care if the last few items are left on the table.One way to create a better agenda is to ask for input about the priorities of the attendees. A crowdsourcing app gathers pertinent information that attendees want to discuss, decide or hear about at your next meeting. They then vote on the ideas presented. The top vote-getters set the priority for the agenda, and your meeting now becomes theirs.
- Hire a focused facilitator.
Let’s say your intended outcome is debate and discussion today, with a vote on the topic of discussion tomorrow. It’s easy for attendees to get off track or have a few individuals dominate the discussion. While it’s vital to have a spirited debate, a good facilitator will bring the group back to the topic and encourage all attendees to participate.
- Give attendees notepads, pens and markers.
Instead of having participants pull out their mobile devices or laptops to take notes, encourage them to use good old-fashioned paper and pens to record notes and scribble ideas. I was at a leadership retreat a few weekends ago, and the facilitators gave us a notepad with no lines and colored markers. He encouraged us to take notes but also draw out our thoughts (no pun intended).
- Ask for feedback during the meeting.
Ask questions like, “Are we on track?” or “Are we meeting your objectives? If not, what should we be doing?” Then switch it up to meet the attendees’ desires.
- Keep the meeting engaging and fun.
While you will have serious agenda items, be sure to give attendees plenty of breaks to network with others and have fun. Provide healthy activities, like walking, yoga, stretching and meditation. Encourage them to get plenty of rest so they’re fresh during the meeting time.
In summary, by following these seven suggestions you should be able to reduce stress, increase productivity and create an element of fun at your next meeting that will leave attendees more engaged and feeling things were accomplished in the end of your time together.
How Kalahari Resorts and Conventions Can Help
Whatever your need, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions has it all — a unique convention center, world-class waterpark, arcade, virtual reality games and, of course, comfortable hotel rooms — all under one roof. We’re also happy to provide configurable meeting space, paper and pens for each attendee, as well as complimentary Wi-Fi to keep everyone connected.
Our group sales staff is standing by at 855.411.4605 to help you with your next meeting. We welcome all types of events; no meeting is too small or too large for Kalahari.