For better or for worse, meetings are a part of most people’s working lives. But a new Accountemps survey suggests that if you’re planning a meeting, you’d better start on time – and have a good reason for scheduling it. The survey found that nearly three in ten (28 per cent) managers said beginning or ending late tops their list of meeting pet peeves. Getting the group together unnecessarily was the second most common complaint, cited by 22 per cent of respondents.
Senior managers were asked, “Which one of the following is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to meetings?” Their responses:
Not keeping to the schedule, e.g., starting or ending the meeting late……………. 28%
Meetings that seem unnecessary…………. 22%
Attendees using PDAs or laptops for non-meeting-related activities………… 20%
People interrupting each other…………. 18%
Meetings scheduled during lunch………… 6%
Other/Don’t Know/No Answer/……………. 6%
“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.”
Accountemps identifies five signs that your meeting could be a time waster — and offers suggestions for how to correct it:
1. You’ve left nothing out. While you should have an agenda, it shouldn’t look like a follow-up to War and Peace. The onus is on the organizer to determine what must be covered and what can be left out.
2. Everyone’s invited. Scan your 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.
3. It will run longer than an 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 an hour, try to get people to interact, offer them snacks or vary the speakers to help everyone stay engaged.
4. 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.
5. 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, you may need to adjust the frequency.
What’s your biggest meeting pet peeve?
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