Tired of long meetings? Here's how to make them engaging

Career advisor says having 'personal interludes' can help

Tired of long meetings? Here's how to make them engaging

Many employees believe meetings are useful, according to a new report, but this doesn't mean they're completely paying attention when there's one happening. A study from LiveCareer found that 61% of employees agree that meetings are beneficial, as opposed to the 39% who believe that meetings are just "showpieces for managers."

In fact, 74% of the respondents said that meetings make it easier to make decisions. Another 71% agree meetings are great for networking, and another 71% said that meetings develop solutions that meet the needs of everyone present.

However, employees aren't exactly fond of meetings because they attend too much of them (69%), according to the report. Others said this is because they need to work longer because of too many meetings (61%), and others feel tired and demotivated after meetings (59%).

Meetings aren't exactly new in workplaces, but they have ballooned amid the pandemic with more online ones emerging and dominating due to lockdowns and distancing regulations.

According to the report, 68% of employees spend about four to 10 hours a week for meetings, with 39% noticing that the meetings they've been attending have been getting longer.

This might not be the scenario for employees - as nearly half of the respondents said that 20 to 30 minutes is enough time for a person to lost attention and stop listening.

So, what happens next? 75% of employees admitted that they do other things during meetings to pass time. They revealed that these are the things they do to pass the time:

  • Read news on the internet (39%)
  • Browse social media (38%)
  • Read a book (38%)
  • Shop online (35%)
  • Start a text messages conversation with a friend (32%)
  • Play on online/mobile game (31%)
  • Do other work-related tasks (28%)
  • Draw or doodle (27%)

Nina Pączka, career advisor and job search expert at LiveCareer, told HRD that with the four to 10 hours spent for meetings, engaging with participants is important.

"Engaging participants and having their attention throughout the discussion is essential," Pączka told HRD. "And this is a job for everyone – meeting participants or organisers – and HR departments."

Read more: How to stop endless meetings – and stay connected

What can HR do?

Pączka said one way to keep meetings engaging is by "interacting on a more personal level."

"It simply means breaking the ice and getting to know meeting participants," she said. "A meeting leader, but also anyone else, can break the meeting mundane by asking how people are doing, if they've seen a particular movie or if someone can recommend a great holiday destination or a business book."

"Most people will naturally engage in the conversation, as in simple topics, everyone has something to say and is not afraid to express their opinion."

According to Pączka, having several "personal interludes" throughout the meeting will help maintain engagement and interest among participants.

"Those who have temporarily lost focus will notice a change of topic that will again attract their attention. Just be careful not to prolong the discussion," she advised.

She also pointed out that this method will help promote a friendly atmosphere, positive attitude, as well as deep conversations during the meeting.

"Over time, in the case of regular meetings with the participants, bonds will be formed, turning the meeting not only into a business duty but also a personal pleasure," she said.

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