Meetings are part of our everyday professional life.
And although we often think of them as unproductive or even unnecessary, modern businesses thrive on them. That’s because meetings are instrumental in building trust and intimacy between people. And in doing so, they inspire collaboration. Face-to-face meetings have immense value in this regard. That’s because they make it so much easier to engage in conversation. And they make it easier to build a strong personal connection.
Are you regularly planning and running meetings. Then your focus should be on creating a climate that fosters collaboration among meeting participants. At least if you want to be serious about having more productive meetings. To help you with that, it pays to keep five simple facts in mind.
Fact #1: It’s all about eye contact
Less than 10 percent of how we communicate is through the words that we speak. That’s a finding supported by Professor Albert Mehrabian’s communications model. The way we say words, our facial expressions or our body language are much more relevant to how we communicate during meetings. That’s why you should undertake every possible effort to create a meeting environment that encourages eye contact. Eye contact reveals emotional cues like enthusiasm, commitment, and understanding in the most direct way possible. Eye contact creates the personal connection needed to drive collaboration among meeting participants.
For me, that’s where wireless presentation systems like crowdbeamer bring a lot of value. Wireless presentation systems help restore the optimal discussion environment. That’s because they enable presenters to share information on all portable devices in the meeting room. They help avoid that everybody’s view is drawn to a remote projector or flat panel display. Personally, I believe everybody just feels more comfortable knowing that all relevant information is automatically delivered to their portable device. And everybody finds it easier to make eye contact.
Fact #2: Preparation makes or breaks meeting success
Surely everybody is aware that preparation is crucial to the success of a meeting. Why else would it be that articles on the planning and preparation of meetings are so popular on the internet? Or why are there plenty of checklists on the internet that provide support for anybody who needs to prepare and conduct important meetings? The most cited report on meeting effectiveness is the Verizon Conferencing White Paper “Meetings in America” (prepared by Infocom). This report says that 66% of meetings are considered to be productive meetings. And that preparation is recognized as a critical factor for such productive meetings.
But still, it is an illusion that you can prepare meetings down to the smallest detail. This is a world where most things happen just in time. It seems to be the rule rather than the exception that relevant information only becomes available shortly before or even during the meeting. You can’t prepare for that. Unless you deploy instant information sharing solutions like crowdbeamer to bend “just-in-time” to your advantage.
Fact #3: Technology must be easy to use
But even then: it isn’t sufficient to prepare well if you want to have productive meetings. We all know too well from experience that technology issues frequently put meeting dynamics at risk. Finding the right cables to connect your laptop to a projector can quickly become a painful experience. Some sources relate that over 25% of all meetings are delayed or rescheduled due to technology complications.
The best approach to minimize such problems is to keep things simple. Implement easy-to-use technologies to facilitate meetings. Employ them with serviceability in mind. Standardize them through all meeting rooms. And don’t forget to provide people with clear instructions on how to use them. By doing all that, you will avoid that people get frustrated. You will stop them losing valuable time in trying to make meeting room technology work.
Fact #4: Participants expect to meet in a calm environment
According to research conducted by Herman Miller on the organization of the workplace, the ratio of meeting space to people space has been steadily growing over the past decades up to a value of 1:5. In parallel, many organizations have been repurposing private office spaces into open workspaces.
That makes it easy to understand why many employees are looking to use meeting rooms as a collaborative environment. It allows them to get away from the hustle and bustle of their workspace, and be more productive. In other words, they expect to meet in a calm environment isolated from the rest of the office space. They expect distractions to be kept to a minimum. That includes technology distractions, as most employees even prefer to bring their own device to improve their personal productivity.
Fact #5: Information sharing needs to work instantly
No meeting is over when everybody has left the meeting room. You’ve done everything possible to create a meeting climate that fosters collaboration? Then make sure that collaboration doesn’t stop once the meeting is over. The information that was shared during the meeting must get out to all participants. And it must happen as fast as possible. Even better, you should make sure that nobody even leaves the meeting room without a full set of relevant meeting notes. That makes it possible to put them to use immediately afterward.
The most effective way to enable that is through instant information sharing solutions such as crowdbeamer. Crowdbeamer enables participants to create a meeting’s live handouts by collecting information shared during the meeting and completing it with personal remarks. Especially so since most people tend to bring a portable device along anyhow.
Make sure to get the most out of your meeting spaces
These five facts seem to be simple at first sight. And yet, it needs some serious thought to put them into practice. For example: how exactly should you integrate easy-to-use (wireless) technologies into a well-designed meeting space to facilitate collaboration? What technology options are available? Which design elements mostly effect meeting environment qualities?
If you want to know more about that, you should read our free white paper. It features a handy meeting room checklist. That will help you get the most out of your meeting spaces. And it will make your organization more efficient. Especially if you are on a tight budget.