One of the realities of the 21st century workplace is that it’s everywhere. It’s on your desktop, on your laptop, on your phone. You need to have the ability to communicate efficiently and effectively from wherever you are to wherever the people are that you need to communicate with. Facetime is a vitally important factor in communications, but with a geographically spread out workforce, it can take some doing to get everyone in one location for a meeting. On-location meetings also make for a lot more stress than they might be worth as in addition to travel times, you’re dealing with disruptions to work in progress and familial obligations.
Meetings are Valuable
A lot of people complain about meetings, but they’re not really complaining about meetings themselves, just what they’ve turned into. CIO magazine has pointed out for years that unnecessary meetings do more harm than good. There are so many ways to derail a meeting, so even before you start using video conferencing, it’s up to you to kill the nine meeting killers:
- Interrupting. No matter what, if a speaker is presenting that speaker should not be interrupted unless they are going over their allotted time. Critique should wait until after the speaker is finished and a question and answer period has been satisfied.
- No agenda. Meetings need agendas to keep them on track. Who speaks for how long, a defined question and answer period, and then on to the next item.
- Too long. Set a starting time and include a definite ending time with the agenda. If you need more time, you should excuse those who have other appointments.
- No resources. All resources should be made available with the agenda, and available for review before and after the meeting.
- Late arrivals. In order to be fair, after a certain point, the meeting should be closed and proceed without people joining in an hour later and interrupting with, “Hi! What did I miss?” It’s not petty, it’s a matter of respect for the people who are speaking and the others who managed to attend on time or communicate that they were unavoidably late.
- No actionables. Have you left a meeting and wondered what the meeting was about? What was supposed to happen after the meeting? Who was supposed to do what? People should leave the meeting with a plan of actionable points to implement.
- Bad audio/video. Crappy dubs of old kung-fu movies are funny. Bad audio/video sync in meetings is just annoying. Working with a cloud-based app can help with these issues, but you should still upgrade hardware to work with the app.
- Meeting dominators. You don’t want to be That Guy. You know, the one who interrupts, talks over everyone, the finger pointer, and so on. You also don’t want this guy to dominate meetings and talk about his golf game when you’re trying to get things done. Don’t let him, in fact, if there’s someone who doesn’t contribute, don’t include him in the next one.
- No options for remote staff. Being cut out of a meeting because of travel time is a way to lose these workers and their valuable input. Choosing an app that is interoperable with any number of room systems, desktops, laptops, even smartphones and tablets allows full access to meeting resources and participation.
It’s up to you to revamp the culture into one of participation and action, not just showing up and playing Candy Crush during presentations. Find the solutions, and then focus on making them a good new habit for everyone to adopt.
For small businesses, every dollar counts, and a lot of them will use free or freemium software to stretch their budgets. Unfortunately, as a business grows, the free or freemium apps may not be able to stretch that far. It’s up to you to find solutions that can be scaled up or down as your needs demand. Especially in a meeting heavy business sector, you need to find solutions for back-office and client-facing parts of your business. Video conferencing systems for IT such as BlueJeans can easily fill the niche you need.
Building a healthy and engaged meeting culture keeps people engaged, and are more important to Millennial workers than you might think. GenXers and Millennials outnumber Boomers by almost three to one, according to Pew Research, and the eldest of the Millennials are now in their mid-thirties. It’s time to get rid of the Gen X Slacker and Generation Selfie caricatures, and start working with what they can bring to the company. After all, you have to start getting ready for Generation Z – they’re starting college this year, and will be knocking at your doors very shortly.