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Should You Have Full Meetings or a Quick Slack Chat?

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Should You Have Full Meetings Quick Slack

Before COVID the question of whether you should have a full meeting or a quick slack chat would not even have been on the radar of issues needing to be addressed. One study showed that 55 million meetings are held worldwide each week. Another study discovered employees spend two hours a week attending unnecessary meetings. This is not only a massive waste of time but $541 billion in resources as well.

In light of the studies — it is not surprising that most of us question each and every meeting on our Calendar. And, certainly, the seeming craziness has gotten more ridiculous following COVID-19, but what action to take is less apparent.

Virtual meetings used to take up two hours a week, but now they take up more than ten. In other words, we spend one-fourth of our work week in virtual meetings, whether through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and the like.

However, it might be possible to replace your full meetings with a quick Slack chat to save you and your team time, money, and sanity.

Not All Meetings Are Quality

“Meetings have become a necessary evil in the post-pandemic world,” notes Howie Jones in a previous Calendar article. “Many, if not most, can be done remotely. On Zoom, or some other remote platform. And there are ways to keep them from becoming too annoying.

Meetings are not completely effective even in ideal circumstances, say people from all levels of a company, including the CEO, he adds. The pandemic, the current turbulent labor market, and the pressing needs at home make today’s corporate climate a challenging one.

“Executives and teams simply cannot afford to squander time and resources,” says Howie. Meetings typically squandered people’s time and rewarded grandstanding and egomaniacs before Covid-19. “In 2019, Korn Ferry reported that 51% of workers thought the excessive time spent on calls and meetings hampered their effect at work, while 67% stated excessive meetings hindered peak performance.

Only 11% of respondents thought all meetings were useful. Sometimes, though, a meeting is the best approach to bringing everyone together.

It’s About The Medium

Meetings can be very productive. Others can be awful. No matter what, they play an important role in the work of every organization. What separates them, however, is the goal of each meeting, as well as the medium.

For example, meeting one-on-one for a performance review has a more formal vibe than the laid-back atmosphere of catching up over lunch. There’s also a different feel to a scheduled meeting at a conference table compared to an impromptu chat at someone’s desk.

Electronically, emoji-filled texts convey a different mood from emails. What’s more, Slack notifications are handled differently than a distracting ringing phone. Regardless, use every channel at your disposal to reduce or prep for meetings. And, don’t overlook tools like Calendar which allow you to streamline schedules.

Whatever you meeting you choose, make sure you have everything you need for productive interactions. And, to ensure that, you can answer the following questions;

  • Are you going to need to refer to your documents during the conversation?
  • Can this conversation be conducted over the phone while you walk?
  • Does it matter to you that you can see each other?
  • Would a file-sharing program be better suited for this particular collaboration?

After you’ve established the best method of communication, make sure you formally document those guidelines. In the case of a chat function, it might be perfect for exchanging short ideas. On the flip side, it’s not ideal for sending documents or important dates. After all, a long conversation can lead to too many details being missed.

It’s probably best to send information via email. As for collaboration, you can’t go wrong with Google Docs — particularly when real-time evaluation is needed. When you need to talk privately or have a two-way brainstorming session, the trusty phone should suffice.

Providing these guidelines lets your employees know what to expect from a phone call or an app notification. Additionally, creating clear expectations makes communication more effective, avoids misunderstandings, and reduces stress.

Meetings That Go Great With Slack

Generally, video chat, phone, or in-person meetings are some of the best methods of handling meetings. However, Slack interactions can be used to replace certain types of meetings.

The daily status meeting.

“One of the best candidates to be replaced by activity in Slack is the daily status meeting,” states the Slack Team.

During these meetings, team members share what they are working on today, what they finished yesterday, and any issues holding them back. But, the facilitator may find it difficult to enforce and prevent discussion creep even if you limit each update to 60 or 90 seconds. For example, if you have a dozen people on your team, you would spend at least 15 minutes every morning in these meetings, which would amount to three person-hours per day, they add.

If you want to avoid this problem, you should set a start time for this kind of meeting so everyone can submit an update on time. By using Calendar, you can easily manage this.

Brainstorming sessions.

New ideas are the lifeblood of businesses. Meetings to brainstorm are essential if you want the river of ideas to flow.

“Brainstorming meetings are designed to generate a lot of ideas over a short period of time—and they’re critical if you’re trying to solve a problem or achieve a goal,” says David Chaudron, an organizational psychologist and the managing partner of consulting firm Organized Change.

How can brainstorming meetings be successful? Don’t focus on the outcome of the meeting, but on the ideas.

According to Chaudron, brainstorming sessions should be open to ideas “without having to judge them right then. Figure out what works and doesn’t work after you do the brainstorming. It’s important you have a separate [meeting] just for the brainstorming itself.”

When using Slack for brainstorming sessions, you should integrate it with collaborative tools like Dropbox or Google Drive. You should also set up a dedicated brainstorming channel in Slack. And, whenever you brainstorm, always create tangible materials such as sheets, documents, or even doodles

Reviews and approvals.

‌‌Another type of meeting that might be handled better through text is a project review and approval meeting. It is possible for these meetings to lack focus, resulting in lengthy and ineffective gatherings.

As an alternative to meeting face-to-face or video conference, upload any relevant images or documents to Slack. Once completed, you can ask for feedback from everyone involved. Depending on the culture of your workplace, some people request emoji responses here.

Furthermore, Slack can also be used to discuss how to improve the current project or how it might be structured in the future. By doing all of this over Slack, participants can think about their responses at their own pace, as opposed to feeling like they’ve been put on the spot in a face-to-face meeting.

Team building activities.

During team-building meetings, members gain a better understanding of each other, develop trust, and strengthen their cohesion. Increased productivity and employee satisfaction can be achieved by improving employee collaboration as well.

Through the use of games or team challenges, team-building meetings are meant to create a fun and interactive atmosphere. Leaders and organizers have a great opportunity to connect with their teams and build stronger bonds.

Virtual team-building meetings are becoming more and more important as more people work remotely. These programs engage and connect remote workers who may feel isolated from their teammates and organizations. It is important for companies to engage with remote employees to prevent morale and the company culture from deteriorating.

Post-survey meetings.

Because there are so many types of surveys, each of which serves a different purpose, you can use surveys to improve virtually all aspects of your team.

In low-trust environments, anonymous surveys can assist with tracking team morale, employee feedback can be collected and analyzed, and there are also team feedback surveys. Moreover, running surveys in Slack saves time and stores historical data for future reference. And, Slack threads are perfect for follow-ups.

Are Slack Meetings Better?

In a nutshell, no.

You can easily conduct daily check-ins, brainstorming sessions, and review meetings using a text-based application, like Slack. It’s also handy for team-building and surveys. The majority of other meetings, however, are better conducted by phone, video chat, or in person.

You can enhance your team’s connection and relationship with face-to-face meetings. Even when people are many miles apart, phone calls can help them feel connected. Both make teams more productive.

In others, use Slack for quick chats or collaboration. But, for more complex and detailed conversations, a full meeting still serves a purpose. Furthermore, you can use Slack to prepare for one-on-ones and full meetings. For example, you can send attendees the agenda, prep questions, and a log to track progress.

When appropriate, use Slack to save time and energy so that your team’s meetings can be as productive as possible. And, more importantly, quick Slack chats can improve efficiency and preserve your and your team’s energy.

Image Credit: Tirachard Kumtanom; Pexels; Thanks!

Should You Have Full Meetings or a Quick Slack Chat? was originally published on Calendar by Deanna Ritchie.

6 Ways to Make Your Meetings More Productive

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Six Ways Make Meetings More Productive

Organizations must improve their ability to have productive meetings to become more successful. How can managers help bring meetings with a better outcome?

Meetings take up a lot of our time at work, but how much do they truly accomplish? According to Korn Ferry’s study, meetings rarely do what we set out to accomplish. Furthermore, more than two-thirds (67%) of employees report that spending too much time in meetings and on phone conversations prevented them from having an effective workday.

Organizations must improve their ability to have productive meetings to become more successful. This topic has been of much interest in the last few years. Are we getting better with our meetings and making them produce what we set out to create? So, what can leaders and managers do to help bring about better meeting results?

The Front Stage Meetings

1. Think of the meeting as the ‘front stage,’ and prepare for them by working hard on the ‘backstage.’ And don’t ignore the priorities.

“While many meetings are routine,” says Dr. Shameen Prashantham, professor of international business and strategy at China Europe International Business School and author of Gorillas Can Dance, “others feel there should still be an improvement to meetings on every level.”

2. Give yourself time to “check-in.”

We never start a meeting without ‘checking in,’ says Fiona Logan, CEO of Insights, a worldwide people development firm. Checking in with each person briefly enables participants to completely participate by discussing what’s on their minds, how they’re feeling, or what they want to gain from the meeting. Then the meeting becomes a time management situation.

Checking in, according to Logan, helps individuals understand and empathize with their colleagues, fostering connection and trust. It also allows them to change their mentality from before the meeting to where they need to be during the session.

“This promotes participant participation, which typically leads to a happy and effective meeting,” she explains. Logan also suggests scheduling 45-minute meetings instead of hour-long sessions since it keeps everyone engaged for the length of the discussion.

Productive Focus

3. Focus on results rather than updates even when considering your new software or scheduling apps.

Suppose executives evaluate the expense of bringing their colleagues together for the conference. Some believe that meetings must provide at least twice as much value as they used to. Prepare by thinking about outputs, not updates, the next time you chair a meeting and make it as output-oriented as possible so that everyone arrives at the table with their thinking hat on and not their dinner plans.

4. Distribute reports ahead of time.

“Don’t waste meeting time presenting papers,” urges Annelise Ly, an associate professor at the Norwegian School of Economics and a CEMS Global Alliance in Management Education member. Instead, ask your partners to read information ahead of time and go right into the topic when you meet. The direct approach keeps people interested and cuts down on meeting time.

5. Take command of the discussion. Know when time is being wasted.

“Deep discussion and disagreement in meetings is a critical trait for creating innovation and ensuring that teams will grow and prosper,” says David Liddle, CEO of TCM and author of Transformational Culture. However, he cautions that heated debate may quickly devolve into something harmful and dysfunctional.

Managers can no longer afford to sit back and let the argument evolve. Instead, a manager needs to lead by taking on the role of facilitator. Liddle contends that providing safe places where open, honest debate can take place, and a variety of views can be put forth, leads to better team acceptance and fosters a tighter-knit group.

“Helping our people to disagree constructively,” says Liddle, “is the goal of healthy discussion.”

6. When gathering electronically, plan and speak in short spurts.

Everyone has had ‘Zoom fatigue,” says one prominent doctor of business, Dr. Amanda Nimon-Peters of Hult International Business School in the United Kingdom. Dr. Nimon-Peters is also the author of the forthcoming book Working With Influence. She continues, “That’s because, when we stupidly approach virtual meetings as if they were real meetings, they become tiresome and unpleasant.”

While our technology has advanced to allow for distant meetings, Nimon-Peters points out that our minds have not.
We suffer subconscious discomfort because of a perceived closeness that the simulated distance between video conference participants.

Successful online teams, according to Nimon-Peters, interact in bursts rather than in back-to-back, conference-length conversations. Participants must also plan ahead of time to make their time together as productive and interesting as possible.

Are all Meetings Poppycock?

Not at all. No meeting has to be futile or pointless. The key is to get to the main points of the meeting and get to it first. Be prepared ahead of time and never hesitate to redirect the conversation.

If things are not going as planned — don’t be afraid to close one door and open another — one that’s more productive. Don’t facilitate the time wasters, over-talkers, or indecisive ones. Instead, come with a plan, execute that plan — then leave on time.

Image Credit: Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!

Six Ways to Make Your Meetings More Productive was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

Is There an Ideal Meeting Time?

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Ideal Meeting Time

Are you encountering meeting mortification? There are ways to tweak your meeting time to make a meeting marvelous — or at least productive and bearable.

When it comes to efficiency and productivity — time is everything.

When it comes to meetings, the one thing you’ll want in every meeting is efficiency. Of course, it’s necessary to handle your meetings in a professional manner, but the time you hold it is almost as crucial to success.

When is the optimum time to schedule a meeting?

Let’s look into the ideal time and day for a meeting for your company. The general consensus is that the best time of day for meetings in business is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

If a typical workday lasts from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the day is divided into two halves. The schedule is basically the same in every office.

Earlier in the day, 9 –10 a.m.

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Lunchtime; 12–1 p.m. – Lunch break

Afternoon; 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Afternoon/Evening — late afternoon/early evening; 4 p.m. and forward

This leaves you with five-time periods to choose from.

So, seeing this schedule at a glance — what are the advantages and disadvantages of each timeframe?

The early bird

Early in the A.M. — Having a meeting first thing at first light might be beneficial if you want to be quick. Power people and very busy CEOs often want this time for their meetings. A fast 15-minute stand-up meeting or a quick check-in is best done early in the morning.

On the other hand, early morning meetings should be avoided for some types of employees, such as graveyard employees, since those workers may still be tired. In addition, you don’t want to spend time repeating yourself or waiting for someone to return from the coffee machine.

Teach your employees to prepare the day before

Meetings at the start of the day require employees to prepare the day before or arrive early. As most tech businesses get going early — you can teach your employees to better navigate this world by showing them how to set plans and goals — prepare the night before.

If you have given leeway during covid for your staff to start at various times of the day, getting everyone in the same room at the same time to start the meeting might be challenging. Get everyone back on the same schedule, if you can, for success.

Many employers have found that mid-morning meetings are more productive since the change from home to the office. In addition, if you use mid-morning meetings, often employees have had time to settle in, and they aren’t in the flow yet. In this case — mid-morning meetings tend to be more productive. Around 10 or 11 a.m., flexibility also seems to increase.

Some workers don’t want to spend time in a meeting shortly before lunch because they believe you will drag on and they’ll be late for lunch plans. So always start and end meetings on time.

How about a lunch meeting?

Lunchtime/Lunch break: Meeting timings are often influenced by mealtimes, so grabbing and paying for your employees’ lunch can be a great week to connect. If you’re holding a conference during a meal, plan on supplying the food — and let that be known.

Employees will feel more productive and invigorated if they are given some beverages or little snacks, even if it isn’t a full dinner. Still, a lunch meeting with great food can also go under the team-building budget for your dollars. In addition, these meetings bring your team closer together as they talk with each other before and after the meeting.

Afternoon: Employees are generally lethargic soon after lunch, but by three p.m., the energy picks up. I used to have a boss that always said, “Every person caffeinated, and we’ll meet in the conference room in twenty minutes.”

The vote by workers is that they are far more inclined to accept meetings after three p.m. than early morning. As a result, they’ll be more enthusiastic and have had more time to think about and prepare for the pow-wow.

A three p.m. meeting allows you and your colleagues more breathing space than a nine a.m. conference, which you must attend as soon as you get to work. Note though that for your three p.m. meetings — most of the day is passed, so your participants leave straight after the meeting.

This meeting is not for you if you have a team that works late and gets a lot done.

Never too late for a meeting

Late Afternoon/Evening Meetings: During late afternoon or evening conferences, workers may watch the clock tick and wonder when the day will conclude. If the purpose of your meeting is to increase employee passion for something, the enthusiasm will fade as the person approaches the conclusion of their workday.

Following an examination of the five time blocks in a research done by Keith Harris of WhenIsGood.com, — he said that he discovered the ideal time for a conference seemed to be about three p.m. (afternoon), even if you live in the metaverse.

By three p.m., employees have completed most of their tasks, had a meal, and regained their energy.

Three p.m. is break time. Everyone knows that. So offer snacks and beverages if you’re meeting at that time. Otherwise, food is a distraction.

Monday is the best day of the week for a conference type meeting

Let’s move on to the best day of the week to have a meeting now that we’ve discussed the optimum time. Because workers may utilize personal or vacation days to have a three-day weekend, Mondays and Fridays are typically the least productive days for holding meetings.

On Monday, employees are often still in a weekend mood and ready to leave the workplace on Friday. Yet, you must consider that sometimes your Monday meetings get your team all there and revved up for work. If planned correctly (not last-minute role call), this MO can be motivational and productive.

Days and daze

Some offices claim that conferences should be held in the middle three days of the workweek to maximize productivity and participation. However, the most significant days for conferences are the middle three of the week, and the afternoon is the optimum time for a meeting.

So, when is the best time to conduct a conference throughout the week?

According to a recent survey conducted by the meeting scheduling service WhenIsGood — the optimal time for most of their workers and respondents is Tuesday at three p.m.

While Tuesday was the favorite day in that study — it may not be for you. So if you have a real go-getter team that isn’t afraid to talk meetings and productivity — send out a survey.

Choose the day that resonates most with you and your staff, no matter what your preconceived notions turn out to be.

Image Credit: Christina Morillo; Pexels; Thank you!

Is There an Ideal Meeting Time? was originally published on Calendar by Choncé Maddox.

How to Power Calendar Your Meetings

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How to Power Calendar Your Meetings

Being a leader typically means giving time to your team. But, what is the right amount of time? As businesses grow, they develop a system for keeping schedules (mostly) organized. Here are some helpful tips to ensure that your time stays in order.

Use your calendar as a time-saving and efficiency tool. These suggestions will help you keep an edge while working smart.

1. Don’t hold meetings on a specific day.

Create a company policy that says, “No meeting on Wednesdays.”It’s the day everyone puts up their feet and daydreams. With no interruptions, it’s much simpler to maintain the workflow. Try it; you’ll love it!

2. Let your team plan brainstorming sessions, updates, and meetings. Allow them to do their own scheduling. Your teams can do all their own planning and execution on the actual presentations. Just give them the lead and see what happens. You’ll notice they become more fully vested in the meetings. Your team may need a quarterly meeting to plan when to meet during the quarter.

3. Have the Team Lead check that everyone is prepared.

See to it that everyone is prepared. For example, if you plan to use audiovisual equipment, ensure that your tech staff has all the equipment set up before time. If you are able, conduct a test run-through before the event to ensure that everything is “ship shape and Bristol fashion.”

A quick run-through is especially important when presenting a PowerPoint or when using video-conferencing software such as Zoom for the first time. Make sure that everyone on your team is familiar with all new equipment and tools. Have regular pieces of training.

4. Create an agenda.

Meetings that produce the best results begin with an agenda and a clearly defined objective. If you’re trying to establish the plan for your meetings — confirm the appointment of an employee, or simply exchange ideas — describing the goal of the meeting can help set the expectations of all participants.

5. Follow the guidelines.

Allow time for an open stream of thought, but make sure everyone realizes that time is money and that your meeting sticks to an exact time schedule.

Keeping on an exact schedule for your meetings (and everything else) holds the entire team responsible for intelligent time management. No one should have to delegate the responsibility for managing time — everyone present should be present, engaged, and eager to display the ability to optimize everyone’s time.

6. Track your time.

Break your meeting times into 30-minute blocks. Ask the question: do you really need a full half-hour to hold your conference, or can it be done in just 15 minutes? It’s astonishing how much your team could achieve when everyone is time-sensitive. Have a clock on the wall — fully visible at the time of the meeting and in any meeting room. Clocks make everyone more aware that time marches forward.

7. Plan meetings in blocks.

If you can, schedule your meetings in blocks. It doesn’t matter if your meetings are in the morning or in the afternoon — using a time-blocking schedule will allow for a smoother operation.

Meetings are not the goal. It’s the actions that come from the meetings that are essential. One word of caution: with longer meetings, do not forget to schedule an interval of 15 minutes during your meeting block so you can take care of “nature’s call” and tummy treats.

Employees will want a drink of water or take a bathroom break and grab a quick healthy, and nutritious snack during the meeting. Having snacks available in the meeting room sometimes cuts down on needed break time.

8. Audits are held at the close of every quarter.

In the first week of every quarter, look over your regular gatherings and consider if it is appropriate to keep the meeting in the future? Should they be regularly scheduled, or is it possible to move to a biweekly, perhaps even an annual one?

Repetitive meetings can quickly take over your schedule. For instance, at the beginning of each Calendar Quarter, some companies eliminate all scheduled events from Calendars and start making a new Calendar.

9. Simply tell them “no.”

Be aware of the fact that time and energy are entirely yours to regulate. You have the option of saying “no” when you are asked to use your time. It’s quite a powerful practice. It’s crucial to are taking the time to review strategies, prioritize and ensure that your business is moving in the proper direction.

As leaders, our responsibility is to support our teams and convey the results to our managers. A vital aspect of a manager’s job is to present themselves as confident and enthusiastic. It’s challenging to stay confident and move forward in your business when you’re trapped in a void of meetings which only create more meetings.

Don’t have your company meetings only to decide not to continue to have meetings. Ensure that every meeting counts and that your team is all on board to get your work done. Then intersperse group meetings with one-on-one and face-to-face meets to keep your team rotations fresh, efficient, and valuable information exchanges.

Learning to Speak With Clarity

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Learning to Speak With Clarity

In terms of content, it’s essential to structure our thoughts logically, as well as choose our words carefully. Just as important are projections, pronunciation, and diction. After all, in order to be a good communicator, you need to go beyond language skills.

In other words, you need to learn to speak with clarity

Whether you’re having a one-on-one meeting, speaking at an industry, or just shooting the breeze with friends or family, communicating with clarity shouldn’t be overlooked. It ensures that you’re delivering the right message. And, more importantly, that the other party gets that message loud and clear.

What’s more, it’s possible to learn to speak with clarity. And, to get started, here are nine strategies to utilize.

Identify and overcome obstacles.

In my opinion, identifying the obstacle should definitely be you’re starting point. How can you speak clearly without first identifying the overcoming the obstacles holding you back? It’s like trying to go on a bike ride when you have a flat tire.

While everyone has their specific hurdles, one way to identify your obstacle is to play time management games. These games reveal to you where you have unclear speech, as well as time issues.

Here are the most common challenges to clear speech and communication — and how you can resolve them.

Fast rate.

Unclear speech results from a variety of factors, such as being nervous. As a consequence, words become muddled up with consonants since vowels have become shortened. In fact, it’s when speaking, we should aim for about 140 words per minute.

Slowing down your speech and talking deliberately (at first) helps form your sounds more accurately. And, this gives your listeners time to process what you’re saying.

But, how can you slow down? One suggestion would be practicing deep breathing while speaking. You can also try the following;

  • “Practice Speaking and Self-Monitoring” exercises
  • Recording yourself practicing a speech. Not only does this let you hear how fast you’re talking, reciting your speech builds confidence.
  • “Shadowing” others, such as watching TED Talks and then, mimic speakers.
  • Working with a coach or consultant.

Slowing down naturally can best be accomplished by breathing deeply while speaking. After you gain clarity — in this day and age — I also think we need to step up the pace again when speaking. Slow speech aggregates those who are in a rush — which is most of us. Become clear in your speech first — then speed it up again. (I’d say it takes six months to a year to get this right, you can’t rush it — and it takes a lot of practice.)

Mumbling.

Another common culprit is mumbling. And, this usually goes hand in hand with fast speech. The reason for this is that the mouth doesn’t open as much when speaking quickly. In turn, the sound of your speech gets distorted since it’s being squeezed between your teeth.

The best way to address mumbling is by relaxing your jaw and tongue. Doing so will allow you to speak clearly and with greater precision. You can also use some of the strategies listed above, such as recording yourself. A more strange technique would be speaking with a cork in your mouth because it makes your mouth work harder to pronounce the words more clearly.

Some people mumble because of self-confidence — they don’t really believe what they have to say is important. Believe what you have to say has merit, and it will help with clarity. If you know you are mumbling today — just be quiet and listen.

A quiet voice.

Speaking too softly or not loud enough will result in a lack of clarity. What do your listeners have to work with when you aren’t putting enough sound into the room?

The more breath you take and the more vibrations you feel in your body, the more power you will be able to produce without straining. Keep in mind though, that your voice will appear louder to you than to your listeners. This is awkward, but don’t worry too much about it. Again — record and listen to your voice — continually adjust to the correct volume for the situation.

An accent.

Others may find it difficult to understand you when you have a thick accent. But, there’s nothing wrong with having an accent — all of us have one. But, depending on who is listening to it, it may be difficult to understand.

An accent is more problematic when combined with a weak voice or fast rate. As a result, a strong accent may cause confusion and frustration. Before you start speaking, make sure that you’re projecting well and speaking slowly. It could be as simple as that.

Usually, with a thick accent, you will need a coach. Listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first movies — you can hardly understand him. Listen when he was California’s governor — quite a bit better in his speaking. Listen to him today — he’s understandable. Schwarzenegger put a lot of time into his muscles — and in speaking better — with tons of work, many coaches, and practice. Speaking well and with clarity doesn’t happen by accident; it takes difficult work and practice.

Speaking with clarity is like anything else worth doing well — it takes practice and concentrated work to get it right. There are many YouTube’s about speaking well — look up a few of these.

Stay in your wheelhouse.

“The ‘most natural’ way to project confidence when we speak is when it’s done from the position of authority or as an expert,” says writer and wellness advocate Evelyn Marinoff. “We all tend to pay close attention to such individuals and believe pretty much everything that they say. Because they ‘know their stuff.’”

“So, find your strengths and passions, and further develop thembecome the best you can at what you do.”

This was actually a conversation my brother and I recently had. My argument was that I get turned off by people who are considered experts because they have a platform. It’s like when a celebrity champions a diet. They may not be wrong. But, they aren’t nutritionists and, so you should take their advice with a huge grain of salt.

Being an authority figure doesn’t just give you “brownie points with others—mainly, in the form of respect and appreciation, it will also breed confidence. In turn, this “makes us better armed to face the world, to weather adversities, and to calm down our nervousness and self-doubting.”

You don’t have to use big words.

It’s not uncommon for educated people and thought leaders to use a lot of big words when speaking. I can’t vouch for them all personally, but I believe it’s because they think that this will validate that they “know thief stuff.”

However, this isn’t always true. For some, having an extensive vocabulary is merely a tactic to hide behind. As a result, your arguments become misrepresented. And, that defeats the whole purpose of communicating with others.

Does this mean you should avoid big words all the time? Of course not. Sometimes they are more accurate and superior to their smaller cousins.

If you don’t want to exasperate or offend your audience, define big words before using them.

Captivate and engage others.

Piggybacking from the last point, an audience that doesn’t understand you won’t be able to benefit from your expertise. And, that might be because you’re using jargon. Remember, just because you and your colleagues throw around industry terms freely doesn’t mean that everyone is aware of their meanings.

Unless you know your audience, like their backgrounds and motivations, steer clear of the complicated words or acronyms that your audience is not familiar with. It’s a surefire way to lose them and prevent them from being engaged and captivated.

Another suggestion? Keep your explanations simple and clear. This guarantees that your audience can relate to and understand them. And, when they, you’ll be able to maintain their attention

In the words of Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Read a Thesaurus.

Using different words can ensure that other people will understand what you’re saying. By using synonyms and changing a sentence structure, it will be much easier to get someone’s attention. But, repetition is needed to initially grab their attention.

Repetition has a special quality that’s called “specialty.” This is because people can say the same thing in a variety of ways. It will be in your best interest to learn a wide range of synonyms and related words.

Here are just a couple of examples in action:

  • When you can’t think of a specific word, for example the word goal, you could say, “aim” or “objective” instead.
  • When you’re talking to someone and they don’t understand what you mean — you can use goals or intentions.
  • When you wish to reiterate your point — if you say, “we need to reduce expenses by creating a budget. This would save us a lot of money.” The short explanation gives clarification to the sentence.

Write more often.

It becomes easier to speak more clearly when you’re able to write well. Over time, your vocabulary, sentence structures, and arguments will become second nature.

The reason? It helps you prepare and think ahead. As a result, you do not need to focus on your structure or vocab. Instead, you can focus on your presentation structure in order to avoid mistakes. Even if you’re busy as heck, try writing in a journal during your morning routine for a couple of minutes may help.

Avoid sub-clauses.

Another benefit of writing? It allows you to put several arguments inside one another. In other words, writing allows your audience to find the beginning of your sentence so that they don’t get confused. You can’t do that when you’re speaking.

Therefore, don’t nest ideas inside each other. Be concise when writing and end one thought before starting another. When you clearly end a sentence — you won’t lose your audience. More importantly, the listeners can walk away with the key points you wanted to relay.

9 Pro Tips for Conducting a Hybrid Meeting

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9 Pro Tips for Conducting a Hybrid Meeting

As companies return to having employees in the office, they may realize hybrid operations are a must. 

Now instead of having meetings with everyone in person or everyone online, you need a hybrid solution. However, this solution creates a new set of meeting challenges to overcome. 

Here are a few smart tips for including video attendees in important in-person meetings without making it awkward for everyone.

1. Share the Agenda

Meetings run smoother when you have an agenda and stick to it during the meeting—sharing it before the session helps attendees prepare. It also helps keeps remote workers connected so they know what is going on and meeting expectations. Add any online references or links to resources that everyone will need. The central information center will help keep the entire team in sync.

2. Use the Most Current Technology

If your conference room equipment hasn’t been updated in a while, now is the time to do it. After a year of everyone being on video conferencing, people expect to see and hear everything clearly. As a result, old conference room telephone systems and outdated audio need to be replaced to keep remote participants engaged.

Don’t forget to check for software updates too. For example, platforms are adding emoji options to give video participants ways to react and share feedback without disrupting the meeting. Some providers are also developing new tools so participants in the room can use chat along with online members. 

3. Show Everyone’s Face if Possible

Remind online participants to keep their videos running and show their faces. If that isn’t possible, encourage them to use a professional headshot for their off-video setting. You also want to have cameras set up in the conference room to capture people’s faces in the room. 

It also helps if you can use a big screen to show the gallery view of participants. Helping everyone be able to see each other’s faces and expressions builds a connection with online participants. In addition, it helps remind speakers to make eye contact with people not in the room by looking at the camera as another person in the room.

4. Start the Video Before the Meeting Starts

Assign someone to start the online meeting room before the official start of the meeting. This can serve a couple of purposes. First, it’s a good time to troubleshoot any technical issues. Second, it gives you a chance to ensure video and audio are working so you can save the meeting time for the agenda.

Finally, it also gives online participants a chance to accomplish a tech check of their own. They’ll be more engaged and less stressed if they aren’t trying to fix their tech issues after the meeting has started.

As a bonus, they’ll be able to take part in the informal conversations and watercooler talk that happens between in-person attendees while they are waiting for meetings to start.

5. Discourage Side Conversations

Online members can’t hear what’s being said clearly when more than one person is talking. Microphones will pick up the side conversations, even whispered sounds. It’s a sign of respect to your video participants to make sure only one person is talking. That way, everyone can hear and participate.

Sometimes the conversation may get exciting, and people try to talk over each other. You may want to add a touch of humor and a trick to moderate this by using a physical “talking stick.” The only person allowed to talk is the person with the stick. When they are finished, they can pass the stick to the next person. The meeting leader should proactively make sure that online members get a virtual stick and a chance to speak too. 

6. Be Deliberate to Include Online Members

It’s easy to overlook people who aren’t in the room. To keep them connected and engaged, be deliberate about making sure to include them. For example, when the meeting starts, greet them by name and ask them to recap their weekend. Giving them a chance to share helps people in the room connect with the virtual audience as well.

As the meeting occurs, don’t forget to ask those on video if they have questions or comments. And remember, silence can be your friend here. It may take people a moment to come off mute, so don’t be in a rush to fill the quiet.  

At the end of the meeting, go around and ask everyone for their takeaway from the meeting. And start with those online. That guarantees members have a chance for any final questions or comments they needed to add. 

7. Plan Facilitation Help

Meeting leaders may find it helpful to ask a co-worker in the room to act as a facilitator. Their role here is to watch the online participants for indications they need to add a comment. For example, virtual members may turn off mute or use the raise hand function to indicate they want to speak. If members in the room don’t notice, the facilitator should mention it to the room so the online members can share. 

8. Use Group Collaboration Tools

Many times, meetings include whiteboard activities. Most platforms have added virtual whiteboards that video participants can also see. If the virtual whiteboard isn’t an option, make sure you have a way of showing the papers in the room on camera so that everyone can read them.

Another good practice is to use polling software that can consolidate responses from people in the room and online. That may mean employees in the room also need to have an online device with them in the meeting. Let them know this ahead of the meeting to have their device with them and the app installed.

9. Get Feedback

As people start returning to offices and in-person meetings, hybrid meeting practices will grow and evolve. Seek feedback from meeting attendees. Ask them to rate the meeting and provide suggestions for how to improve the experience. It may also help to make sure facilitators occasionally attend hybrid meetings virtually. This first-hand experience will help them get a feel for the online experience and what can be done better.

Conclusion

A recent survey conducted by McKinsey shows that nine out of ten executives expect to have hybrid work. Moreover, as people return to in-person operations, most people expect more remote work than before the pandemic.

The tips above can help make sure your hybrid meeting runs smoothly and keep everyone engaged wherever they happen to be located.

Less Is More: People Will Attend Your Meetings When You Make Them Painless

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Less Is More: People Will Attend Your Meetings When You Make Them Painless

Workplace meetings often bring to mind the opening scene of John Hughes’s “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” Like Steve Martin’s character, you’re probably familiar with long, boring meetings that consistently run overtime. Stuck with a boredom-induced headache, you start daydreaming about everything else you could be doing with your day. As the meeting drags on further and further beyond its scheduled endpoint, you watch the clock in growing irritation. 

Fortunately, workplace meetings don’t have to be an annoying waste of everyone’s time. The key to productive meetings lies in making them brief, focused, and as considerate of people’s time as possible. No one will object to attending your meetings when you do your best to make them painless. 

Do the Needed Prep Work

Before scheduling a meeting, begin by determining whether it is truly necessary. There are many scenarios where the information covered in a meeting could be communicated perfectly well in another, less time-consuming way. We’ve all heard the lament: “This meeting could have been an email.” Some meetings could even be a Slack message or a comment thread in your project management software. Make sure yours isn’t one of them.

If you decide that a meeting is absolutely necessary, the next step is to plan the meeting. Meetings should have a goal and an agenda before the invite goes out. 

Without an agenda, a meeting can easily lose focus or run into overtime. Your agenda should state the meeting’s purpose and the topics to be discussed, by whom, and for how long. Attaching the agenda to the meeting invitation will allow attendees to ask questions or propose other subjects for discussion beforehand.

Once you have a written agenda, go ahead and schedule your meeting. While it can be tempting to cram a meeting into any open time block, some slots are more eligible than others. A U.K study found that 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday is the ideal meeting time, but any midweek, midafternoon slot should suffice. Use your team’s calendar app to find a time when all the necessary participants can attend. 

Keep It Concise

A general rule of business writing is to use as few and as simple words as possible. The same applies to running a productive meeting. Avoid lengthy statements and steer clear of jargon. And remember that meetings aren’t supposed to be a one-way mode of communication. Open the floor for discussion, asking questions of attendees and inviting them to raise questions of their own.

That said, be mindful of losing focus during the meeting. Confine the conversation to agenda items and table unrelated topics. More narrowly focused subjects can often be handled better in smaller settings. 

In a meeting, less is always more. You want to make sure attendees aren’t overwhelmed with information. Meetings should convey enough information to enable a decision on some issue or the setting of action items. If you find yourself citing chapter and verse, you should be sharing a document instead.

Add Some Creative Flair

Meetings can’t be painful when you make them fun. With some creative thinking, you can add aspects to meetings that encourage camaraderie and deter boredom. Brainstorming new ways to run meetings can be a great way to engage participants and add some excitement to the office. 

If this sounds frivolous, note that these add-ons can be fun while helping to keep your meetings on track. At Buddytruk, for example, the team has a surefire way of ensuring its meetings end on time. If one runs over schedule, the last person speaking has to do 50 pushups. At Just Fearless, attendees get their chairs taken away when the time’s up.

Not only do these tactics encourage team bonding, they also make it clear to attendees that their time matters. When your meeting participants know you value their time, they will respect you more in turn. 

Probe for Pain Points 

OK, so you’ve tried to hold a painless meeting. You let your attendees know the meeting’s goal and provided a clear agenda ahead of time. You encouraged a discussion that was free-flowing but on point. You even introduced a few fun — but focusing — elements to the proceedings. How did it go?

Meetings don’t always run perfectly, no matter how hard you try. Instead of striving for perfection, strive for continuous improvement. 

As with most things, feedback is the best way of judging the productivity and success of your meeting. You can get a lot of natural and authentic feedback just from gauging attendees’ reactions during the event. If attendees look distracted or bored, it’s probably a sign that the meeting isn’t proving as effective as it could be. If they pull you aside to ask tons of questions afterward, that’s another indication the meeting didn’t convey needed information effectively.

Sending a short survey directly related to what was covered in the meeting is another good strategy for eliciting feedback. It will help you figure out what was clear to attendees and what wasn’t. You might also ask them to rate the meeting or state what aspects they liked and didn’t like. This information will help you make future meetings even more pain-free. 

To show meeting participants you appreciate their time and attendance, it’s a good idea to touch base with them afterward. A simple thank-you email can make attendees feel valued and respected — and more willing to turn up at your next meeting.

How to Show Up to Video Meetings on Time and on Point

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How to Show Up to Video Meetings on Time and on Point

It happens to the best of us. It’s 10:20 a.m., and you realize you forgot that the morning video meeting started at 10. After scrambling onto the call and making a quick apology, you struggle to catch up with the rest of the team. 

Luckily, there are several tools and strategies to prevent these videoconferencing snafus. The tips below will help you knock every video meeting out of the park. 

Schedule Some Breathing Room 

Whether you’re the meeting planner or just an attendee, plan for video meetings to take longer than they are scheduled for. Block out an additional 10 minutes on either side of the allotted time to give yourself some leeway. That way, if a call runs long, you’re less likely to be late to the next one. If the meeting runs short, you’ll have extra time to take a break, grab some water, or answer emails.

Adding at least a 10-minute buffer around meetings also helps to ensure that you have time to wrap things up before your next commitment. If you need to follow up individually with a member of the team after the group meeting ends, you’ll have time to do so without throwing off the whole day’s schedule. 

Use the Right Meeting Software

Enlist technology to keep you on time and in the know. While some people prefer written calendars, digital calendars excel in making sure that nothing slips through the cracks. The straightforward design and layout of these tools make them incredibly user-friendly. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a paper planner that can send you pop-up notifications of your upcoming commitments! 

When you use scheduling software, you can set it to give you a 10-minute reminder before any scheduled video meeting. This way, you have enough time to get set up, settle in, and resolve any technological problems that may arise. In today’s Zoom world, bad Wi-Fi is no longer a valid excuse for missing a meeting. 

Some scheduling software, like Calendar, allows you to sync calendars from Google and Outlook together. You can combine important personal, work, and family schedules into one main calendar. This way, you never accidentally set up a phone call with a customer at the same time as a team meeting — or your daughter’s soccer game. Nothing gets overlooked when everything is synced together. 

Business scheduling apps also ensure that the calendar event has the link to the call, the meeting agenda, and everything else you need for the video meeting. There’s no more last-minute searching through old emails looking for the link. 

Be Prepared For Every Meeting

Being punctual is only one factor in excelling in online meetings. Being on point and making strong contributions are critical as well. 

Before any meeting, jot down at least two thoughts, ideas, or suggestions and two questions. These notes can focus on the nitty-gritty specific or be more big-picture. Your questions and comments don’t have to be ground-breaking; they just have to be relevant and helpful. When someone asks you, “Well, what do you think?” you’ll be ready. 

If the meeting centers on an ongoing project or issue, take a few minutes before the meeting to review relevant files and notes on the subject. You’ll re-familiarize yourself with the matters at hand and ensure you don’t get lost or caught off guard in the meeting. This is especially helpful if this is the first meeting about a project in weeks. 

If you are leading the meeting, be sure to have an agenda to follow and provide it to attendees beforehand. Attach it to your calendar invite along with the videoconferencing link so everyone will have it at the ready. 

While it is important to be flexible and allow other discussion topics to come up naturally, sticking to an agenda keeps the team on task. You also show yourself to be a capable leader who values your co-workers’ time. 

Create a Professional Setup

The last key element to making an impact in your company’s digital meetings is the space around you. 

When working from home, have a designated work space or desk that you intentionally leave clear of anything but the essentials: laptop, relevant documents, etc. This will help prevent clutter from distracting other attendees from you and your ideas. Be sure that the space behind you is neat and clean as well. 

If video meetings are commonplace in your work, consider upgrading your microphone and using high-quality headphones. If your connection is poor, increasing the internet speed or changing to a different provider is worthwhile. While small improvements, these updates will ensure that everyone can clearly and easily understand you. 

When it comes to time management and personal performance, video meetings can pose challenges. But with the right tools, strategies, and setup, you can ensure that you are a valuable part of any online meeting.

How to Make Your Work Meetings Work for You

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How to Make Your Work Meetings Work for You

You know all about the workday marathon. You finish with one work meeting, and then you have to sprint over to the next meeting. You may even end the first meeting early just to get to the second one on time. The situation certainly isn’t ideal. 

In fact, this kind of terrible time management can cause all kinds of problems. It leaves too little room for error and causes unnecessary stress.

How you schedule your meetings will determine how successfully you’re using your time. If you schedule back-to-back meetings, you’re making your life harder than it needs to be. Thankfully, there are things you can do to change this. The following tips will help you alter your meeting habits for the better. 

Add Buffer Time Between Meetings

The first thing you should do to prevent work meeting overlap is to add buffer time to your schedule. A few minutes between meetings will give you some time to catch your breath after you dash from one to another.

Sitting through the end of a meeting knowing you’re going to be late for the next one is incredibly stressful. You’re more likely to be distracted, and you may even miss important information. Plus, a presenter can tell when you’re itching to leave.

Then there are the concerns about the second meeting. Tardiness is often seen as inconsiderate. If it’s a meeting with the boss, you certainly don’t want to look bad.

It’s much better to be safe than sorry. Build-in buffer time even if you don’t think you need it. 

Plan for Longer Work Meetings

Don’t be afraid to schedule a bit more time than you actually need when organizing a meeting. Take a training meeting, for example. You can’t predict exactly how many questions employees and new hires will have during the event in question. It’s best to get all questions answered rather than cut the discussion short. 

To be clear, this should be separate from adding buffer time. Buffer time gives you what you need to get to and from appointments. Planning for longer meetings also helps other employees manage their schedules. 

Basically, this means scheduling an hour and a half for a meeting, even if you think it’ll take an hour. After that 90 minute block, you’ll still want an additional buffer of 10 minutes. After all, nature could be calling by then. 

Evaluate Your Meeting Locations

Your work meetings’ locations have as much of an impact as when they’re scheduled. For example, you might need to take a long-time client or a group of investors to lunch one day. You’ll need a lot more buffer time if you have another meeting scheduled back at the office afterward. 

This won’t be as much of an issue if most of your meetings are online. However, you’ll still need to keep location in mind. Small relocations, like going from the conference room to your office to set up a Zoom call, can still take time. After all, technology can be unpredictable, and you might need the extra time to fix your mic or hunt down a presentation. 

Prepare Meeting Agendas in Advance

Just as important as planning the times of your meetings is planning their content. You’ll find that meetings run a lot more smoothly when there’s an agenda to follow. Use your online calendar to set a reminder to make an agenda before every planned meeting.

If you’re attending a meeting rather than leading it, ask the host for an agenda. This might prompt them to make one if they haven’t already. This small request can help ensure that meetings go efficiently, even when you’re not in control. 

Keep the Number of Meetings to a Minimum

Did you know that the average employee is wasting 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings? Think of all the things you and your team could accomplish with those lost hours. How can you reclaim that time? By identifying and cutting out unnecessary meetings.

Deciding which meetings to keep can be a challenge. Start by asking yourself a series of questions. Can everything you plan to say in this meeting be written in an email? Are these meetings actually just a way to micromanage others? After some introspection, you should be able to clear your calendar of at least a few meetings. 

Internal communication platforms should keep the need for formal meetings to a minimum. Individual questions can be sent through direct messages. Plus, project management software allows you to give plenty of instructions for specific tasks. 

Avoid Last-Second Meetings

Sometimes a last-minute meeting pops up, and you’ve got no choice but to drop everything and go. However, when you can avoid last-second meetings, you should. Nothing will clog up your schedule more than an unexpected meeting. Trying to squeeze it in between your previously scheduled commitments is just asking for trouble.

If someone requests a meeting with you for the same day, take a look at your calendar before saying yes. Look for a clear opening in your schedule. If there isn’t time for a couple of days, see if that time frame would work for the other person. Very rarely will you actually have to fit in a last-second meeting. It’s always easier to negotiate a meeting time than to reschedule existing commitments. 

Schedule Blocks of Time Without Meetings

If meetings start to overwhelm you, schedule some times where you won’t allow meetings to take place. This will ensure that you can get some actual work done. If you know when you’re most productive, you can schedule this time accordingly. For example, some people do their best work early in the morning. If that describes you, it’s best to block off that time for your own work.

Some people prefer to have all their meetings on one day. Then they have the rest of their week for other work. Others like to keep their meetings spread apart so that they never run too closely together. Whatever your preference, make sure to designate some time away from the meeting room when you can. 

Meetings are an important aspect of any business, but they can take over your professional life if you let them. Finding the right approach to organizing your meetings will keep you from becoming stressed. Open up your calendar now and start making the adjustments you need for smooth sailing at work. 

The Psychological Price of Meetings

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The Psychological Price of Meetings

With so many personalities within your organization, it’s not every day that you can reach unanimous decisions. However, if there is one thing that everyone can agree upon it’s how much they despise meetings.

People dread meetings for several valid reasons. For starters, most people view meetings as unproductive and inefficient. That’s because there isn’t a clear purpose and a lack of clear, actionable outcomes. What’s more, meetings often drag on for far too long. As a result, attendees are pulled-away from meaningful work.

Other culprits include:

  • Having to wait for late arrivals — which wastes even more time of participants.
  • Believing that there’s too much talking and not enough listening.
  • Inviting too many people because you don’t want anyone to be left out.
  • Not having any structure — such as an agenda or allowing others to go off-topic.
  • Feeling bored or not engaged.

While that is not an extensive list, the point is that people really can’t stand meetings. And, the numbers seem to back this sentiment up.

The Psychological Price of Meetings

Research from Atlassian found that the average employee attends 62 meetings per month, with half being considered “time wasted.” The research also shows that we spend approximately 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings.

According to research from Fuze, unproductive meetings cost more than $37 billion annually. It also wastes 15 percent of an organization’s collective time. However, for middle management, that figure increases to 35 percent and 50 percent for upper management. That’s a lot of time and money when 67 percent of executives consider meetings to be failures.

Because of this, it’s no surprise that some organizations, like Asana, have banned meetings on specific days as a solution to the meeting problem. Other businesses have even scrapped meetings altogether.

But, few of these organizations have examined the most detrimental part of meetings; the psychological price it has on employees.

The Toll on Physical Health

Wait. Wasn’t this article supposed to be about the psychological price of meetings? Yes. However, there’s a strong correlation between physical and mental health.

While it’s no secret that physical health reduces serious health concern like heart problems, diabetes, or concern, it’s also a proven way to reduce stress and anxiety. Being active also improves your mood, focus, and concentration thanks to the release of dopamine and serotonin.

Exercise has also been found to stimulate other chemicals in the brain called “brain-derived neurotrophic factors.” These allow for new brain cells to grow and develop. Furthermore, research shows that older adults who are physically fit have a bigger hippocampus and better spatial memory.

In short, when you prioritize your physical health, you’re improving your mental health.

Considering that the average person already sits for 12 hours per day, slouching at a conference table only adds to this sedentary lifestyle. No wonder living sedentary has become the fourth leading risk for global mortality.

To counter physical inactivity, it’s suggested that we need at least one hour of physical activity a day. Of course, this is no easy feat during a hectic workday. The good news is that instead of sitting throughout a meeting you implement standing meetings.

While this won’t completely resolve physical inactivity in the workplace, it’s an excellent starting point to improve employee health — they’re also 34 percent shorter. Additionally, standing meetings come with the following benefits;

  • Releases endorphins and boosts energy levels.
  • Decreases distractions.
  • Encourages better collaboration, a sense of purpose, and creative thinking.
  • Keeps attendees focused and alert.
  • Improves posture.
  • Burns 50 percent more calories than sitting.

Added Workplace Stress and Anxiety

Workplace stress has already been dubbed the “silent killer.” The outcome known as a silent killer is because when left unchecked stress can result in physical alignments like headaches, trouble sleeping, and increased blood pressure. It can also affect concentration, confidence, and mood disorders like anxiety and depression. 72 percent of people who have daily stress and anxiety say it interferes with their lives at least moderately.

Meetings can add to an already stressed out workforce due to issues like being afraid to speak in public and interacting with an authority figure. There’s also legitimate worry when there isn’t access to an agenda or resources before the meeting. I mean is there anything worse than not knowing what to expect when entering a meeting? Worse, have you been asked a question for which you didn’t or couldn’t prepare an answer?

When it comes to reducing workplace stress and anxiety, there isn’t such a thing as “one size fits all” approach. However, one solution is to provide all attendees with the required information, resources, and agenda in advance. Giving meeting attendees advanced information offers them the opportunity to prepare — so that they aren’t afraid of the unknown. The dividend is money back in your pocket in saved time.

You may also want to consider offering meditation classes and encouraging employees to take frequent breaks. Also, create a friendly and positive company culture through team building exercises, socializing outside of work, and not tolerating bullying. When employees feel comfortable and respected with their colleagues, it can ease stress related to areas like the fear of public speaking.

FOMO

Despite the evidence that regular meetings are unproductive and costly, why do we keep scheduling or attending them? There may be a simple explanation; FOMO.

FOMO, which is stands for the “fear of missing out,” is defined as “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.” It may explain why leaders schedule weekly meetings. If they don’t see their team, they’ll worry that they don’t know what everyone is working on, or assigned.

Personalities can also play a role. Extroverts, for example, are naturally drawn to recurring brainstorming sessions and group activities. As a result, they set face-to-face communications because they believe it’s necessary.

The truth of the matter is that when everyone within your organization is in-attendance, performance decreases because the group size is too large. C Northcote Parkinson addressed this first with his“coefficient of inefficiency.” Parkinson stated that meetings consisting of five people were “most likely to act with competence, secrecy, and speed.” Above nine, Parkinson added, “the organism begins to perish.”

Via Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”:

The “evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups,” writes the organizational psychologist Adrian Furnham. “If you have talented and motivated people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is the highest priority.”

Before inviting your entire staff to the next meeting, review all current recurring meetings and ask yourself the following questions;

  • Does the meeting still serve a purpose?
  • Is the meeting necessary?
  • Does everyone need to participate or can you invite only the key stakeholders like department heads?
  • Can you use Slack, email, or a project management system instead of in-person?
  • If you must meet face-to-face, can you replace the meeting with a 5-minute inspiration break?

It’s never easy to start eliminating meetings from your calendar. But, start experimenting with alternatives. It may take some trial and error, but you may find a more productive option.

Decreases Morale and Engagement

When meetings are irrelevant to invitees and don’t serve a purpose, they can kill morale. Instead of being able to focus on more critical work, attendees are stuck in a meeting that is an utter waste of time.

When employee morale is low, you can also expect engagement to drop as well. Initially, this may not seem overly significant. But, employee disengagement leads to;

  • Dissatisfaction with their jobs.
  • Unproductivity.
  • Causes people to withdraw, which harms collaboration.
  • Less employee input.
  • A lack of growth, empowerment, and improvement.
  • An increase in costly mistakes.
  • More absenteeism and turnover.

Again, avoid scheduling meetings that are a waste of time. Make sure they have a clear purpose and work towards a common goal. And, make sure they’re short, concise, and engaging.

Unnecessary Information Overload

Do your meetings contain too many facts? Are you throwing stats at attendees left and right? Are you boring them with slide after slide packed full of information?

Annoying people to death or overwhelming them with information may seem innocent. Unfortunately, when exposed to too much information our brains become unnecessarily stimulated. This information overload can result in negatively affecting our mental well-being in the following ways:

  • A decrease in productivity.
  • Drained energy.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Strong compulsion to check emails, social media, etc.
  • A decreased cognitive performance which can impair decision-making.

When planning a meeting keep in mind that the brain can only handle to so much information at one-time. Additionally, our brains can only focus for so long before starting to wander. If a meeting is an hour-long and delivers too much data — processing and focus will be dull, and everyone will lose interest.

As such, only share the most critical data points during your presentation. You can send any supporting information to your team in the form of a word document that they can view at their leisure. A quick, readable piece will also ensure that the event will be short and concise. Ideally, you should take a page of the TED Talk playbook and keep your presentation under 20-minutes.

Multitasking Damages Your Brain

A whopping 92 percent of people have admitted to multitasking during meetings. Whether if this is checking their email or during other work, multitasking does more harm than good.

Research out of the University of Sussex found that multitaskers have “ less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control.” A study from the University of London discovered “that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night.”

One solution would be to ban gadgets, like a smartphone. Former President Obama, for example, had people place their phones in a basket before entering a meeting.

Another option would be to make meetings more interactive. Interactive meetings take up more time though. But an occasional question-and-answer session can be helpful, group activities, or ditching the chairs and implementing standing meetings can also be beneficial.

Distractions Derail More Than Just Productivity

It’s no secret that distractions harm productivity. For example, if you’re interrupted by an email, it will take around 16 minutes to refocus your attention. As for meetings, it can take 2 hours to recover from these disruptions. The reason? Switching between tasks leaves us with a frantic sensation. As a result, this over-stimulates the brain.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Because distractions lead to productivity loss, the work day gets longer. Eventually, this leads to frustration, stress, and a lack of engagement and motivation. And, because we’re attempting to catch up on work, we make more mistakes.

As if that weren’t bad enough, workplace distractions impair employee IQ scores.

Once again, if possible, avoid having too many unnecessary meetings. If a situation can be handled electronically, then go that route as opposed to interrupting people from working. If meetings are necessary, keep them under 30-minutes and at least have one day per week where meetings do not take place.

Can Lead to a Sense of Failure

As mentioned above, a majority of executives feel that meetings are a failure.

Failure isn’t always a bad thing. It allows you to learn and grow from your mistakes. At the same time, that doesn’t make failure an enjoyable experience.

Failing time-and-time again can make the same goal less attainable. It also distorts how you perceive your abilities, makes you believe you’re helpless, causes anxiety, and unconscious self-sabotage.

Every meeting on your calendar should have clear goals and objectives. Calendar info involves:

  • Identifying the desired outcome and how it can be achieved.
  • Determining why the outcome is essential. In other words, how does it align with the bigger picture?
  • Deciding when the outcome should be achieved and establishing roles.

Meetings Aren’t a Good Waste of Time

Meetings aren’t just a waste of time. They’re a terrible waste of time. This doesn’t even account for the psychological price of meetings on a human soul.

While our brains require downtime, instead of sitting in a useless meeting you should provide opportunities for yourself and team to meditate, new learn a skill, exercise, build hobbies, or work on a passion project. In other words, you shouldn’t be watching Netflix for an hour. Instead, you should focus on activities that have some potential positive value.

When time is spent as an investment, productivity increases, it also encourages creativity, solidifies memories, and replenishes attention.

Meetings Can Still Be Beneficial

You may believe that all sessions are a waste of time? But, that’s not honestly always the case. When done correctly, meetings can;

  • Keep everyone in the loop and on the same page.
  • Share problems, concerns, and solutions to problems.
  • Promote leadership and the chance for employees to step into new roles.
  • Opportunity to give and receive feedback.
  • Provide training opportunities.
  • Promote team collaboration. Teamwork can improve the flexibility of the organization, keep everyone engaged, spark innovation, and improve the health of employees.

Even more promising is that meetings can encourage group cohesion. While meetings should be as short as possible, letting participants spend a couple of minutes before or after engaging in informal communication boosts productivity.

A study from MIT backs this statement up by stating that “with increased cohesion likely comes an increase in things such as shared tacit knowledge, shared attitudes and work habits, and social support.”

Moreover, a Microsoft survey discovered that people crave face-time. In-Person meetings are the communication method that makes them the happiest.

Proven Ways to Improve Meetings

Although there have been suggestions throughout this article to help make meetings successful, a team of psychological scientists have developed the following recommendations;

Before the Meeting

  • Assess current needs. Meetings should only be held to solve a problem, make a decision, or have a substantive discussion.
  • Set and share the agenda. An agenda will make the purpose of the meeting clear. It will also keep the meeting organized.
  • Invite only the right people. Attendance should be kept to a minimum. As such, only those who will help achieve its goals and initiatives should be invited.

During the Meeting

  • Encourage contribution. Ask questions. Encourage feedback. Facilitate group discussions. Or, have a little fun by playing games.
  • Add a little humor. Humor breaks the ice, lightens the mood, and creates a more positive environment.
  • Redirect complaining. Complaints change the mood of the meeting and gets the discussion off-track. Squash complaining and address it one-on-one following the meeting.
  • Keep discussions focused. Stick to the agenda and only allow reviews that are relevant to the meeting objective.

After the Meeting

  • Share the minutes. Attendees can refer to this when they need a reminder of what to do next and who’s responsible for specific roles. Those who couldn’t attend can also use the minutes to stay in the loop.
  • Seek feedback. Feedback will help you plan the next meeting to ensure it’s productive.
  • Look ahead. Keep the momentum going by encouraging everyone to think about future actions, follow-through, and short-and-long-term outcomes.

Additional suggestions;

  • Don’t schedule meetings in the morningMornings should be spent on priorities that involve deep work and focus. Instead, schedule meetings in the afternoon, like around 3:30 or four pm since it’s unlikely that any other project will get started at this time.
  • Pick the right location. Where the meeting is held needs to be large enough to accommodate participants, be an environment that inspires creativity and has the right tech if needed.
  • Eliminate distractions. Again, don’t allow phones into the meeting — or ask them to be turned off. Also, do not allow small talk during the presentation.
  • Set a time limit. Meetings that range between 15-45 minutes are ideal.
  • Step-up your virtual meeting etiquette. If working with a remote team, make sure you’re using the right technology, stop multitasking, close unnecessary programs, and mute your mic when not speaking.
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