Productive Meetings: Our Findings from Evidence-Based Research Papers
Discover key insights from extensive research on successful meetings. Uncover evidence-based strategies for productivity, engagement, and effective decision-making in your team sessions.
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Meetings are both inevitable and crucial in all organizations. Without them, collaboration is impossible. Thus, every organization conducts a vast number of meetings, and some professions, like managers and leaders, are predominantly based on them.
Meetings are an essential part of most people’s working lives, providing a forum to collaborate, share individual thoughts and consider team and organisational ideas. But they can often multiply and become so ever-present that they feel unnecessary, monotonous and exhausting. – CIPD
There is evidence-based research by The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development on how to enhance the productivity of meetings, and we’re excited to share these findings with you!
So, when is a meeting considered effective?
- It achieves the goals of the participants and the organization.
- It provides opportunities to acquire useful information.
- It offers opportunities to meet, socialize, or network with people.
What is the impact of an effective meeting on attendees?
- They are more likely to participate.
- They maintain a positive attitude towards them.
- They exhibit positive behavior in meetings.
- They experience improved mental wellbeing.
Instructions for conducting successful meetings
In the following sections, we will provide you with clear and straightforward instructions on how to facilitate an effective meeting. However, if there were to be two paramount rules, they would be as follows:
- The meeting must be RELEVANT. When it’s not, attendees see no value in allocating their time to it.
- Employees must have a VOICE in meetings – the opportunity to express their thoughts and ideas.
Decoding the drivers of productive meetings
Strive to hold meetings in a facility suitable to your organization and the subject of the meeting. For example, a pure working meeting is better held at the office rather than outdoors on a lawn. Create a comfortable temperature and appropriate lighting.
2. Frequency, Size and Duration
Studies show that meeting too frequently can have negative effects, while duration appears to have no effect. Research suggests holding longer meetings less often might be more productive.
3. Goal Clarity
Express the importance of the topics planned for discussion to your employees and colleagues. Understanding what will be discussed and what needs to be achieved can greatly enhance meeting productivity.
4. Punctuality, Agenda and Rules
Arriving late can cause your colleagues to lose respect for you and may even foster feelings such as anger and antipathy. Although the agenda and procedures do not directly impact meeting outcomes, the longer the meeting, the more it relies on a well-planned agenda.
5. Leader’s Behavior
The behavior of the leader has the most significant impact on meeting productivity. Good leaders:
- Arrive before the start of the meeting.
- Are considerate during the meeting.
- Avoid monologues.
- Paraphrase employees’ comments.
- Summarize the outcome of the meeting.
6. Focused Communication, Humor, and Small Talks
While focused communication aids in achieving meeting goals, positive humor (which is not offensive) and small talks at the beginning of the meeting can lighten the atmosphere. This will surely help avoid feedback like “boring, unproductive, and a waste of time“.
7. Surface Acting
Surface acting refers to the inauthentic expression of emotions, such as pretending to be excited by an idea when in fact you disagree with it. Most people can discern when others are behaving dishonestly.
Understanding the Most Impactful Factors
- Meeting facility: moderate effect ⭐⭐⭐
- Meeting frequency: small effect ⭐⭐
- Meeting size: very small effect ⭐
- Meeting duration: no data.
- Goal clarity: large effect ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Meeting punctuality: small effect ⭐⭐
- Formal agenda: small effect ⭐⭐
- Meeting rules/procedure: small effect ⭐⭐
- Meeting-leader behavior: large effect ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Focused communication: moderate effect ⭐⭐⭐
- Positive humor, playful activities, small talk: moderate effect ⭐⭐⭐
- Surface acting: moderate effect ⭐⭐⭐
Face-to-face vs. Virtual Meeting
Although COVID-19 has led to an increase in virtual meetings, research on their effects is still limited. However, most findings suggest that the recommendations for face-to-face meetings apply similarly, if not identically, to virtual meetings.
Meetings differ in every organization and vary greatly in their effectiveness. When conducted efficiently, they foster collaboration, improve participants’ attitudes, and encourage positive behavior while contributing to mental wellbeing.
Various factors influence productivity, with meeting setup, goal clarity, and meeting leader behavior demonstrating significant impact. Clearly stating goals and showcasing exemplary leadership behavior ensure more productive meetings. While meeting frequency, size, and punctuality have smaller effects, they are still vital for managing meeting dynamics. Humor and focused communication can enhance engagement, though surface acting can be detrimental. Lastly, these principles extend to virtual meetings, advocating for a universal approach to facilitating effective meetings in any format.