Meetings tend to carry with them a sense of dread. Though necessary, meetings can have detrimental effects if poorly executed. This compelled Patrick Lencioni to coin the phrase "Death by Meeting" in the early 2000s in his similarly titled book. Lencioni says, "Bad meetings almost always lead to bad decisions, and that is the best recipe for mediocrity."
But what makes a bad meeting as opposed to a successful meeting? There are several areas from which bad meetings originate, and each one has a solution.
The workspace should facilitate synergy both in and out of meetings to avoid shallow and ineffective collaboration. A modern workplace should allow and encourage team collaboration during, before, and after a meeting.
Most traditional office spaces don't enable this level of synergy. A common area lined with desks and cubicles is rarely if ever an ideal place to collaborate. Conference rooms are useful for important meetings with large groups but not for quick brainstorming sessions with two or three people.
To avoid death by meeting, you'll need a variety of spaces that will help your users collaborate effectively. This includes both large conference rooms and smaller collaboration spaces.
According to a survey published in the New York Times, 43% of employees work remotely. This number continues to increase as the remote work lifestyle becomes more accessible and appealing. Effective meetings need to account for users who may be working from home or other distant locations.
Conducting meetings over long distances will require quality conferencing technology and internet connection. This becomes difficult to maintain when team members are spread across multiple locations. Even if your team is unified on one platform, a single bad connection can cause "death by meeting."
In an era when your users work in different locations, it can be difficult to keep them all engaged. They need to feel like they're still a part of something bigger than themselves no matter where they are. If they don't feel significantly included, they'll experience death by meeting.
A study conducted by Microsoft determined humans today have an eight-second attention span. This means holding your team members' attention is getting harder and harder to do. If your meetings don't keep them engaged, the first distraction that comes into view for your users can derail your meetings.
Meetings are too important to be disrupted by technology issues or distractions. Avoiding "death by meeting" will allow you to protect the time and resources you've invested in these collaboration sessions.
You probably already have at least one conference room equipped with a table, chairs, and conferencing device. The conferencing device is what allows this room to function by connecting to a collaboration platform. Whether it's Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, or Zoom, meetings can be joined with one touch.
Video collaboration platforms help avoid "death by meeting" by keeping meeting participants engaged. Microsoft Teams, for example, has a feature called together mode. It allows users to appear as though they're together in one room. Cisco Webex comes with audio intelligence which allows the app to isolate a speaker's voice and drown out background noise.
Each platform provides high-quality audio and video. Once integrated with your meeting rooms, they create a consistent experience that helps keep collaboration effective and efficient.
Deploying a video collaboration solution is only part of the process. Meeting spaces need to be arranged to facilitate effective collaboration in many forms. These spaces come in a variety of shapes and sizes that serve different purposes. The huddle space exists at the smallest end of the spectrum.
Meetings aren't always conducted with a whole team seated around a table. Some meetings are smaller and more organic. They start with two to three people huddled around a screen discussing projects and plans with their remote teammates. These meetings are best conducted in a huddle space.
The huddle space is the evolved form of the conference room. It's generally made up of couches, armchairs, and round tables with a conferencing device to tie it all together. In-office team members feel invited to collaborate. Meanwhile, remote team members will be easily able to conference in and share whatever they need.
"Death by meeting" is easy to avoid with the right video conferencing systems and meeting spaces. However, it may not be easy to determine what's right for your organization. Should you use Teams or Webex? Do you need larger meeting rooms or huddle spaces?
At Continuant, we can provide expert insight into your meeting spaces. For more than 25 years, we've helped organizations all over the world improve their collaboration. We'll design, deploy, and manage state-of-the-art meeting rooms that will fit your organization's needs.
Ready to take your meeting spaces to the next level? Schedule a technology assessment today.
* Editor's Note: This article was originally published in October 2019 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.