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Yawn – how to avoid tedious meetings

Standard workplace meetings have become so loose in their format that many employees are fed up with them, believes a meetings and facilitation specialist. Read our top tips for getting your meetings back on track. 
Meetings should be thoroughly planned and facilitated to ensure that they are productive and successful. This requires an effective facilitator.

Publiceret: 25.08.2016
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The situation is a familiar one:

you are in yet another tedious and draining meeting that you do not have time for or see the point of.
The agenda was sent out ten minutes before the meeting was due to start and contains the usual agenda items with no detail.

Ten minutes after the meeting should have started, the last attendees are still arriving. As soon as the first item has been discussed, you can already see where things are going – discussions from the previous meeting have simply picked up where they left off.

Luckily, you have brought your laptop along and are able to read and respond to e-mails during the meeting which means that your time has not been completely wasted.

This scenario may be slightly exaggerated, but you probably recognise some of these aspects from meetings you yourself have attended.

Productive meetings have ground rules

Experience shows that an improved meeting culture and more effective facilitation are the most important routes to enhancing the overall value of meetings.

Meetings should be thoroughly planned and facilitated to ensure that they are productive and successful. That is why it is important to define the role of facilitator, explains Ib Ravn, PhD from Aarhus University, who researches meetings and facilitation.

“Today’s managers have grown up in a democratic tradition, and the format of standard workplace meetings is now so loose that many employees are just fed up with them. During discussions, the facilitator has the important task of ensuring that people talk through one point at a time and that everything does not just become one big jumble. It is the facilitator’s responsibility to ensure that discussions lead somewhere and that should preferably be well before people get tired,” he says.

Five top tips to ensure productivity

Thomas Skelbo, a senior consultant in the Management Development and Productivity unit, has worked with meeting management and facilitation for more than eight years.

His five top tips for productive meetings are:

1) Prepare the meeting thoroughly and send out an agenda to ensure that attendees know what is expected of them.

2) Plan the meeting so that it uses inclusive processes that ensure that all attendees come into play.

3) Facilitate the meeting as it progresses to ensure that attendees focus sharply on both content and format.

4) Ensure that the item under discussion and its boundaries are clear at all times so that attendees do not lose their focus.

5) Conclude clearly and succinctly so that no one is in doubt as to what has been decided and who is expected to do what.

The above will ensure that meetings represent well-prepared, consciously designed and actively managed interaction between a selected group of people. This creates a good basis for subsequent qualified action.

Today’s managers have grown up in a democratic tradition, and the format of standard workplace meetings is now so loose that many employees are just fed up with them.
IB RAVN, PHD MEETINGS AND FACILITATION, AARHUS UNIVERSITY
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PUBLISHED: 8/25/2016 LAST MODIFIED: 2/18/2017