We all attend meetings – they’re a cornerstone of organizational life. Although meetings are a necessary tool to convey information, set priorities, solve problems, etc., just how often do we walk away from a meeting with the feeling that it was a good use of our time? Unfortunately… not often enough.
A recent study¹ sought to determine those factors that affect our perceptions on the effectiveness of meetings. The researchers examined how various design characteristics contributed to the perceived effectiveness of meetings and found the following:
- Structured meetings that followed a well-designed agenda were perceived to be more effective. The agendas of effective meetings were: delivered to participants beforehand, explained at the beginning of the meeting, and followed during the meeting. Agendas allowed attendees to come prepared and kept meetings on-track.
- Punctuality was strongly related to effectiveness. Punctual meetings started and ended on-time.
- The quality of the meeting facility was also an important predictor of meeting effectiveness. Quality facilities were spacious areas with windows, white-boards, and comfortable chairs. Refreshments were made available as well.
Above and beyond the best practices described above, attendee participation was central to effective meetings. However, participation cannot simply be forced, only encouraged. The good news is that adhering to the factors described above creates an environment where participation thrives. So, rather than having people toss around a ball and tell a secret to “break the ice,” and encourage participation, try to write (and follow!) strong agendas, be punctual, and provide a comfortable facility for your next meeting- you may find that employees will walk away engaged and happy!
¹Leach, D., Rogelberg, S., Warr, P., & Burnfield, J. (2009). Perceived meeting effectiveness: The role of design characteristics. Journal of Business and Psychology, 24, 65-76.