“I shouldn’t be here,” you’re thinking during yet another awkward silence. You’re trying not to look at the person across the table, and they’re doing the same. Are you at a bad meeting, or are you on a bad first date? Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference. In fact, we’ve noticed a number of things they have in common.
Every year, thousands of hours go to waste because people show up late for meetings. The most effective solution is a two-pronged one:
- First, make sure meeting calendars and notifications are standardized across your organization, so no one can use technology as an excuse to be late.
- Second, make sure management leads by example by always starting on time. If employees expect their leaders to be five or ten minutes late to meetings, they’ll be late, too.
No one is aware of what is happening—whether no one knows whose turn it is to speak, no one has prepared anything to say, and no one is asking good questions. This is one of the hallmarks of a bad date—and a bad meeting.
Avoid this problem by setting a meeting agenda. Also, consider giving team leaders and managers some training on how to make a meeting conversational. During that training session, teach employees how to create effective meeting agendas and ask good, non-confrontational questions, such as, “How can we test this idea?” or “Who are we targeting?”
Lack of Eye Contact
Eye contact is important for effective, honest communication. That’s no less true for an important meeting than for a first date. Yet, despite the availability and low cost of video conferencing tools, people continue to have voice-only phone meetings.
By and large, colleagues connect more effectively when they can see each other’s faces. It’s well worth the extra step of enabling video.
The last thing you want to see on a first date is the other person’s phone. Same with meetings. If you’re a leader, consider having (and personally modeling) a “no phones in sight” policy during meetings. A good practice is to leave the phone at your desk, or, if you must be able to answer a call, leave it in your pocket and answer it if it rings.
Being interrupted by another person makes you feel disrespected. That’s equally true in a meeting and on a date. But you know what also throws off your mojo? Being interrupted by technology.
“Can you see my screen? No? How about now?”
“Uh, I don’t know why we got disconnected. Sorry about that.”
“The meeting software says I need to download an update…”
These kinds of interruptions throw off your focus and teamwork and can even derail an entire meeting. If you’re ready to take the next steps to improve your meetings, try GlobalMeet.