Professional workers have around 26 meetings every week, and the average meeting lasts approximately 50.6 minutes. This means that the average worker spends almost 22 hours in meetings every single week. That’s more than half the working week!
In total, around 55 million meetings happen worldwide every day. That’s over a billion meetings a month. However, it’s important to note that all meetings aren’t the same. In fact, there are several different types of professional meetings.
From one-to-one check-ins to sales rally sessions, there’s no shortage of meeting types. However, most meetings fall into one of four categories:
- Team building
- Information sharing
- Decision making
- Idea creation
Getting a clear definition of meetings makes it easier to understand their purpose and create better strategies for making them effective. Here’s everything you need to know to create effective meeting strategies for your in-person, hybrid and remote teams.
Why are business meeting strategies important?
Too often, businesses just wing their meetings. The result? A whopping 71% of employees said they find meetings inefficient and unproductive. This is a massive problem because ineffective meetings cost U.S. companies up to $283 billion every year. However, costs are only a part of why businesses should prioritize effective meeting strategies.
To use time efficiently
Meetings already take up more than half of the workweek, which isn’t necessarily an issue if the meetings are properly planned. However, since almost three-quarters of workers say their work meetings are inefficient, we can assume that most companies don’t have meeting strategies in place.
That means employees are being taken away from their income-generating and creative tasks to sit idly in meeting rooms and Zoom chats. This wastes valuable time and makes it really difficult for employees to get their work done.
To increase meeting productivity
Without a plan, meetings can meander. More than two-thirds of workers say that too much time prevents them from contributing to their workflow. However, when meeting organizers don’t have an agenda, it can be too easy to get off task.
It’s not just a lack of a plan, either. Too many people in one meeting can make it impossible to maintain focus. That’s why a thoughtfully constructed guest list and meeting plan are excellent strategies to keep everyone on track. Without a strategy, meetings can become aimless, and it can be challenging to keep your remote employees engaged.
To prevent misunderstandings
Misunderstandings are common when there aren’t clear expectations. For example, when meetings aren’t well organized, it’s common for the meeting organizer to get questions like, “Should I prepare something for this?” or “Why am I supposed to attend this meeting?” or “Is this six ‘o’clock your time or mine?”
If the meeting organizer can’t provide quick answers to those questions, those attendees will bring them to the meeting, and the whole beginning of the meeting is just people asking questions that should have been handled beforehand. Clarity is essential because if questions remain unanswered, important tasks can easily fall through the cracks.
To lower conflict
It’s easy to lose focus in a poorly organized meeting which can result in some frustration. For example, when people get distracted, they often pick up their phone, doodle or otherwise show disinterest. This can lead to the presenter or active speaker feeling frustrated or anxious. Additionally, those who struggle to stay focused tend to also feel agitated and restless in meandering meetings. All of this negative energy can lead to unintended conflict.
To keep spirits high
Inviting people to meetings who don’t need to be there can frustrate them. Additionally, if leaders require employees to come to meetings but don’t listen to their input, they can make their employees lose trust in their supervisors. With a strategy, supervisors can use meetings as connection points to boost morale rather than decrease it. Meetings can also be a part of your ongoing employee engagement strategies.
The 11 best meeting strategies for hybrid and remote teams
Whether your team is virtual or fully remote, it’s essential to have a solid meeting strategy. Meetings should be a time to bring groups together, but supervisors have to be creative to make the most of virtual meetings.
Here are ten proven ways to do just that.
1. Include some fun
With fewer opportunities to run into each other, socializing isn’t easy for hybrid teams, leaving many employees feeling lonely and out of touch. In fact, 73% of new remote workers miss the socializing they used to get at work. Consider incorporating some fun and low-stress meetings into the schedule. For example, you might block out a social catch-up chat every other week for employees to talk about their lives outside of work.
2. Meet in person when possible
If possible, find time for your in-office team and remote teams to meet each other. Doing so will help build camaraderie. In addition, when you do have meetings, be sure to have your in-office team rally together in a conference room versus calling in from their desks or offices. Having the in-person team together for meetings and the remote team call-in helps build a sense of togetherness, even if everyone isn’t in the same place.
Keep in mind that it might be harder for your remote employees to hear everything or speak up when they have something to say. So, you’ll need to either incorporate work-from-home technology to handle those gaps or take extra time to check-in and make sure the remote attendees can hear everything and have an opportunity to provide input.
3. Ask the remote team questions first
Starting (or closing) a meeting with questions is a terrific way to make sure everyone feels heard. It also ensures the meeting’s points were communicated effectively. So, always ask your attendees to share their questions and thoughts. Also, if you have both in-person and remote team members, consider asking the remote employees to share their ideas first. This ensures everyone gets heard and that your remote employees don’t get left behind unintentionally.
4. Acknowledge your remote employees’ efforts
Studies show that remote employees work more hours per week than their in-house peers, and additional studies have shown that remote workers are more productive than their in-house counterparts. As a result, supervisors need to acknowledge these additional efforts in 1:1 meetings and larger group meetings.
5. Consider canceling
Many business experts agree that most companies spend too much time in wasteful meetings. As a result, sometimes the best meetings aren’t meetings at all. Take time to ask yourself if the meeting is actually necessary. If the same issue could be handled in a quick email, shared doc or chat, consider canceling the meeting altogether.
6. Make the agenda clear
Having an effective meeting really relies on having an agenda. It’s essential to set up objectives, talking points and speakers ahead of time. Then, consider having someone be in charge of keeping the meeting on track. Ultimately, you can ensure your meetings are helpful rather than wasteful for your employees by prioritizing talking points and creating a clear meeting plan.
7. Keep numbers low
Meetings are most effective when there are seven or fewer participants. As a result, you want to keep the attendee list to the bare minimum. As a rule of thumb, you want to make sure that every attendee is involved in discussing at least a few items on the agenda. In other words, someone who only needs five minutes of the information shouldn’t have to sit through the rest of the meeting. So, before creating the guestlist for any meeting, be thoughtful about who needs to attend to get your objectives accomplished.
8. Pick the perfect time
When dealing with hybrid and distributed teams, meeting timing is everything. It’s not uncommon for workers to be spread across different time zones and regions, so be thoughtful about the best time for everyone to meet. Another trick to timing is to schedule your meetings a little past the hour or half-hour mark, so there’s a bit of a buffer between meetings. Additionally, be sure to schedule meetings with as much lead time as possible. Expecting your team to clear their schedule at a moment’s notice doesn’t do great things for team morale.
9. Facilitate introductions
If your team doesn’t know each other, make time in your agenda for introductions. This doesn’t mean you should allow for long-winded, meandering introductions. Instead, consider a quick introduction prompt to start things off. For example, have everyone say their name, position or purpose in the meeting and share their favorite hobby.
10. Turn on mics and cameras
Consider making mics and cameras required. If everyone is off-camera and muted, it’s easy to disengage and feel like you can’t step in or speak up. For example, it can be awkward to unmute and interrupt, but it’s much easier to join the conversation if you’re already unmuted.
11. Put things into action
Make tasks part of your meeting agenda. While you discuss issues and topics, be sure that attendees know what actions are expected of them after the meeting. You can either assign tasks while you’re on the topic or dedicate a few minutes at the end of every meeting to assigning related tasks. The goal is to make sure everyone on the team knows what the meeting accomplished and what their responsibilities are moving forward. Assigning action items in the meeting ensures everyone is on the same page and knows how the entire team is working to move the company forward.
Do you want to create effective meeting strategies? Our managed #WorkFromAnywhere technology can help get your team on the same page.