If you work in a corporation, you may have a couple of meetings a day. Are these all essential? Are they all a good use of your time? Most likely not, and this is an issue that plagues companies around the world. Attendance is always valued, even if it doesn’t necessarily bring value. Other issues we have with meetings are the way they are conducted. Since the pandemic struck, many have been moved to virtual meeting rooms such as on Zoom or Microsoft Teams, which means there are now fewer excuses for no-shows. With meetings getting so much negative feedback nowadays, the question posed is how can we improve the experience? Below are a few suggestions.

Shorten them

An hour is a nice round time, but is it really necessary? If people came more prepared then more often than not the meeting could be condensed into 15 minutes (yeah I said it) and still have the same outcome. Spending too much time discussing what to do instead of doing it can lead to what is informally known as “analysis paralysis”, where you overthink and miss the opportunity. I’m not saying you shouldn’t plan properly, but much of this doesn’t need to be discussed in an hour-long meeting.

If you give people an hour to discuss, they will take an hour, and the same concept applies if you give them 15 minutes. As a company, try installing a meeting room booking system where the maximum allotted time for meeting rooms is capped at 15 or 30 minutes, and see if the quality of work gets worse, stays the same, or improves. If it’s either of the last two, you’ll know shortening meeting times works.

Encourage participation

Sometimes, meetings turn into a conversation between just a few people with the rest of the attendees being spectators, and they can even turn into a one-way conversation on occasion. This is exactly what we want to avoid. As a tactic, make the meetings interactive by allocating tasks to the participants or asking everyone their thoughts and opinions. To avoid people drifting off and losing concentration during meetings, request participants to contribute to the meeting content. This spreads the workload and participants will have a reason to take an interest.

Get rid of meetings

One controversial way of improving the experience would be to get rid of them completely. Meetings take up so much time from our days and honestly, much of what is discussed can be done on collaboration platforms such as Slack or instant messengers. By going digital we’re able to better keep track of conversations and shared files – say goodbye to meeting minutes and forgetting what was discussed only an hour ago!

While the time for collaboration is important, the traditional meeting setting for many people and businesses is outdated. They usually come at the expense of personal work or other more productive opportunities.