The Top 10 Meeting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

 In Business Success, Leadership

Have you ever been in a meeting that seemed like a slow death? Who hasn’t? Don’t be the manager of that kind of meeting. You do have a choice. According to research, over half of all meetings are a waste of time. Why? Many managers don’t know how to conduct an effective meeting. They make the same miserable mistakes day in and day out and never take the time to learn how to conduct them better.

A Microsoft study found people spend an average of 5.6 hours a week in meetings-double or triple this for managers- and 69% felt the time is unproductive. Worldwide 13 billion meetings happen every year, and they waste billions of dollars in time and productivity yearly-Wow!

Managers need to be mindful of this. Effective managers learn to communicate powerfully, positively and purposefully in any meeting they lead. By doing so, they will propel their teams to new heights in performance achievement. If YOU hold better meetings you will:

  • Gain higher morale from your team
  • Receive invaluable input from your team
  • Make more effective decisions
  • Motivate your team to achieve higher performance
  • Become noticed by others in your company

Meetings fail for many reasons but here are my top ten. Where do you need to improve? (These apply to in person and phone conference meetings.)

  1. No agenda – Create a meeting agenda ahead of time and communicate it with your team. Be clear on your purpose and what you hope to accomplish.
  2. Poor agenda – Some managers who do have agendas try to rewrite world history during the meeting. You have to focus. There are different types meetings such as: staff, department, quality improvement, or training. Be clear on your reason for getting together.
  3. Lack of participation – Ban or minimize PowerPoint slides and don’t be the only one who talks. Managers need to learn facilitation skills to engage their teams in the meeting. (See point 8 below). In addition, get other team members on the agenda to contribute as well. More engagement creates more commitment and energy.
  4. Doesn’t start on time – This is a common occurrence in meetings today. Let your team know upfront that you will start on time. When someone comes late, acknowledge it and remind them of your expectations. However, YOU start on time. Also, focus and aim to complete most of your meetings in 30 minutes or less.
  5. Doesn’t end on time – Make a commitment to a certain time-frame and stick to it. If you don’t accomplish everything get permission from the team for more time or set another meeting time if you have to.
  6. No record – Keep a record of what happens in the meeting. Ask someone to be a recorder and take minutes. Share the minutes through a timely email as follow-up.
  7. A few people dominate – A few people will often dominate a meeting because they like to talk or because of their expertise. Use group discussion methodology to get all people involved. For example, instead of getting blank stares when you ask a question: suggest participants write down their answer, share it with a partner and then do a round robin where participants take turns giving their ideas to the whole group.
  8. Poor facilitation skills – It takes training and practice to run effective meetings. Key facilitation skills include: listening, dealing with problems, giving feedback, designing group input, problem-solving, dealing with disruptive people, keeping the meeting on task, and creating consensus.
  9. No Conflict Resolution – Conflict isn’t bad. It just means people have differences in opinion. Over time team meetings without conflict lose innovation and trust. Leaders must create openness and learn how to constructively deal with issues when they arise.
  10. No summary at the end – Near the end of every meeting you need to recap key points, what was agreed to and the next step responsibilities. When you do this you reaffirm the meetings outcomes and who is accountable for what.

Oh yeah, one more key mistake, the meeting should never have been held in the first place. Why? Because there is no meaningful reason, you aren’t prepared, it’s redundant, it’s not the right timing, or everyone already knows what’s up.

James T. Kirk said, “A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours are wasted.” You can learn to avoid these mistakes and deliver better meetings. This will also help you become a more effective leader. The clock is ticking and people are watching you, why not improve today?

By the way, do you want to learn how to increase employee engagement and inspire your team? Check out our complimentary eBook: How to Motivate-No-Inspire People.


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