Are Your Long Meetings Putting People To Sleep?
Long meetings are a sure fire way to make people tune out and most people dread even attending one in the first place. Think about some of the recent meetings you’ve had. Were there a lot of yawns? Did your attendees seem to be staring a hole right through you? Were they looking at their watch every minute? Were they avoiding your eye contact. Frowning? Irritated? Were their eyes glazed over or even closed?
People might not actually be sleeping, but if their brain switches into slumber mode, their cognitive function drastically declines. In fact, a study found that 91% of participants admitted to daydreaming during meetings, and 39% said they have even dozed off. That’s embarrassing to both the speaker and the attendee!
The bottom line is if you host long meetings, you’re fighting an uphill battle. No one can stay focused for that long – their brains won’t let them. It’s science. A long meeting is simply too much for the body to handle. But, meetings are a part of life and if done correctly, they can actually be a productive part of your day.
Here’s how to keep everyone focused on the meeting, instead of taking a nap:
- Keep all meetings to less than one hour.
- Start your meeting on time. (If you are an attendee, be courteous – be ON TIME).
- Trim your agenda to what really needs to be accomplished.
- Have an actual PURPOSE and GOAL for your meeting. People should understand WHY they are there.
- Send out the agenda in advance so people have time to think about what will be discussed.
- Have people submit their questions to you ahead of time. You can incorporate your answers into the meeting.
- Make each attendee responsible for input. Let them contribute. It will make them feel more integrated into the meeting rather than just being talked “at”.
- Use technology and visual aids. It gives your audience something else to look at besides you.
- If a discussion of one item runs too long, table it. Let people know you’ll set another time to continue with it.
- Stay positive. Don’t let the meeting digress into a complaint session.
- Keep people on point – don’t let sidetracks happen. If other agenda items need to be discussed, it can be done so at a different meeting.
- Have attendees place their phone face down or to keep it back at their office desk. It’s too tempting for them to find a way to seek out other entertaining ways to pass the time.
- Have caffeine, water or snacks on hand.
Meetings don’t have to be boring. Keep these simple rules in mind and you might be surprised that people look forward to meetings and actually miss them if they don’t occur. Your team will bond better and you’ll have a more positive outcome for both the meeting and the business.