Meetings are horrible, albeit necessary – you need to talk with people to resolve an issue, sometimes they are not always in front of you (in an airport, at home with sick kids, in the branch office, etc) and you need to nail someone down with the hopes of getting their undivided attention. There are two problems I see today with meetings – Engagement and Attendance.
The worst part of any meeting is when you ask someone remotely to provide their thoughts and they ask you to repeat the question – not because they are trying to figure out their answer but because they were doing something else instead of focusing on your meeting. As organizations push to leverage their technology infrastructure more and more to reduce costs, it’s inevitable that you are going to have a remote meeting using some form of technology in the next year or so (Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Skype For Business, Google Hangouts, etc).
Engagement is not about technology, it’s about people.
The best way to keep people honest AND engaged – require they have a webcam installed and running during the meeting. It’s a human fact, once people know they are being watched, they will pay more attention – picking their nose is no longer an option, their focus instantly goes up.
Now, after your meeting, who was in attendance that said nothing? Sally from R & D, John from HR? Should they have offered something up? Yes – then talk to them about it, explain to them why they were invited and that you need them to speak up. Did they think they had nothing to say and everything was already said? Okay, don’t invite them. You can even skip to this stage without asking them – they had nothing to say – you’re out. It’s not a bad thing – you are saving their time (they don’t need to be at the meeting) and yours (I don’t need to invite so many people and perhaps the discussion between those in attendance will become more engaging). After your meeting, fire them a note saying what was discussed and how it went, if they don’t respond, slowly stop sending them notes – maybe they are trying to tell you that you don’t need them at the same time?
Engagement and Attendance – get a better handle on those two things and you’ll be surprised at how the usefulness of your meetings go up.