The word “meeting” is almost always accompanied by a collective groan in any workplace. Most meetings are tedious, ineffective, and far longer than they need to be. However, they don’t always have to be so headache-inducing — here are four science-backed tips for hosting successful and engaging meetings.
Cut down on participants.
Meetings with over 10 people are counterproductive, Robert Sutton Ph.D., a professor of management science at Stanford University, tells Thrive. “Participants become overloaded by trying to listen to too many people,” and struggle to keep up with varying moods and personalities, says Sutton, a co-author of the book Scaling Up Excellence. Therefore, “worse decisions are made and interpersonal problems arise,” he says.
Talk less, and listen more.
Good leaders never take up all of the space in a room — and ensure that their fellow employees follow suit. As Sutton tells Thrive, “bad leaders are like hippos — little ears and big mouths.” If you are dominating the conversation, your co-workers might be struggling to feel seen or heard. Take some time to self-reflect and make sure you are allowing everyone room to contribute.
Check your devices at the door.
People tend to feel less connected and trusting when phones are present on the table, Marissa King, Ph.D., a professor of organizational behavior at Yale University, tells Thrive. Additionally, she points out that rarely do phones even stay on the table — it’s not uncommon to see employees checking their emails or texting on their devices while their co-workers are speaking, further contributing to a less productive and respectful environment. If you want to host an effective meeting, it is integral that everyone is fully present.
Make peace with silence.
When questions get posed in meetings, the most extroverted individuals are often the first to respond. Though this can be productive, it can also cut off those who prefer having time to think before they add to the conversation. King suggests the exercise of taking a 30-second pause before people start jumping in after a question is asked of the group. This will foster more robust input and ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute.
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