Long, unnecessary meetings unpopular with managers

Personal use of PDAs, interruptions also pet peeves: Survey
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 07/19/2011

More than one-quarter (28 per cent) of managers say beginning or ending a meeting late tops their list of meeting pet peeves. Getting a group together unnecessarily is the second most common complaint, cited by 22 per cent of respondents, found a survey by Accountemps.

Also an issue are attendees who use PDAs or laptops for non-meeting-related activities (20 per cent), people interrupting each other (18 per cent) and meetings scheduled during lunch (six per cent), found the survey of more than 300 Canadian senior managers.

"Meetings are an effective way to share news and discuss current issues. However, organizers are responsible for keeping meetings on track by following the agenda and being mindful of time constraints," said Kathryn Bolt, Canadian president of Accountemps. "It's essential to continually reassess the usefulness of all gatherings, especially long-standing meetings that are not due to a compelling need."

There are five signs a meeting could be a time waster and here’s how to correct them, according to Accountemps:

Nothing is left out. While there should be an agenda, the onus is on the organizer to determine what must be covered and what can be left out.

Everyone's invited. Scan the list of attendees to determine who really needs to be included in the discussion. Often, people are invited as a courtesy rather than necessity. A lengthy participant list also may indicate you are trying to accomplish too much in a single meeting.

It will run longer than one hour. It's hard to keep an audience's attention for an extended period of time. If you must schedule a meeting for more than one hour, try to get people to interact, offer snacks or vary the speakers to help everyone stay engaged.

There are too many visual elements. Visuals, such as PowerPoint presentations, can be effective for simplifying complex ideas, but they also can bog down the discussion. Instead, distribute the slides to attendees before you meet to give them a chance to review and prepare comments in advance.

It's routine. If you have regularly scheduled meetings, you may want to determine if they are still necessary. For instance, if it's difficult to come up with enough agenda items for each gathering or the meetings are getting progressively shorter, adjust the frequency.

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