Breathing New Life into the Same Old Meetings

Meetings get a bad rep these days. Yes, some seem pointless and others drag on … and on… and on. But they can also be valuable opportunities to share ideas and foster teamwork.

That is if you can sidestep some of the key pitfalls that derail many meetings.

Breath new life into the same old meetingsWhether it’s a women’s networking group or a regular company meeting you run, here are the three biggest meeting troublespots, as well as a choice of strategies to avoid each:

  1. People Don’t Show Up on Time

Tough to get any traction for your agenda when people are dribbling in three, five even 10 minutes after your meeting has begun. Everybody’s busy, but for everyone to get the most out of a meeting, it should start on time with all participants. A few ideas:

Option 1: Start the meeting with a more urgent topic that requires participants’ input, rather than a recap of the last meeting. Folks will want to get there on time to sound off … then you can get to regular housekeeping items.

Option 2: Set your meeting start time for something precise … and a little odd.  Calling a meeting for 1:47 instead of 1:30 or 2 p.m. will a.) Stick out in people’s minds so they’re less likely to forget and be late. b.) Show you mean business and plan to start exactly then. Both get you the prompt participation you need.

  1. Meetings Go Off the Rails and Get Off Track

The only thing worse than a meeting? A meeting that drags on much longer than it was scheduled to. But there are ways you can put time on your side in your next meeting:

Option 1: Set the meeting room clock ahead by three minutes. This is a little trick some administrative professionals use to help ensure they wrap up on time. It’s not so wrong that people will notice, but it will give you enough of a buffer that most meetings will end when they should, without spill-over.

Option 2: Try assigning specific times to the agenda: 10-10:15: welcome new members; 10:15-10:45: discuss ways to improve work/life balance. Then hold firm. If a topic is spilling over, set a follow-up meeting to continue that discussion, and get back on track. 

  1. Meetings feel stale

When you meet every week, or even every month at the same time, things can start to feel tired after a while. But you have plenty of ways to freshen up:

Option 1: Change up the time. Looking to breathe new life into your Thursday 3 p.m. networking group meeting? Try holding it at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. If you have the same meetings at the same times each week, people start to simply go through the motions and you may not have your most engaged participants. Simply mixing up the time can bring some new energy. And that morning person may just be much more participatory than during your late afternoon meeting slot.

Option 2: Meet on the move. Next time you have a one-on-one meeting scheduled, you might want to suggest you walk while you talk. You’ll likely get better ideas. Walkers’ ideas are 61% more creative than sitters’, says research by Stanford University.