Create a Collaborative Environment
The first step to creating a productive meeting environment is to create a collaborative environment. Creating an environment that is conducive to collaboration requires a few key adjustments. First, you’ll want to choose the best meeting location. Research shows that open environments like conference rooms and lounges with high ceilings and lots of light promote collaboration and creativity. Closed-off rooms with dimmed lights encourage a more serious and focused mood. You’ll also want to choose the right technology for your meeting. While you want to avoid bringing too many devices, you also want to make sure the technology you’re using is the best fit for your team. For example, you should avoid using a computer-based meeting platform if people who attend the meeting use different operating systems. The equipment you select should also have enough bandwidth for all attendees. If you can, avoid scheduling meetings during peak times so that others in your organization aren’t also reduced to watching a spinning wheel.
Once you’ve created an open and collaborative meeting environment, you’ll want to establish rituals. Rituals are certain behaviors that you and the team regularly engage in. They help to create a sense of heightened awareness—your team is more aware of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. They also help to create a sense of common purpose and identity among team members. You and your team should establish rituals to begin and end every meeting, and to keep the meeting on track. One way to begin each meeting is with a concise discussion of the agenda. This is especially important if you are part of a large team or working with distributed teams. It’s often difficult to follow an agenda if you don’t know what it is. You can use a visual agenda to help keep everyone on track. Your agenda should be specific enough to guide the discussion, but general enough to allow for spontaneity.
Each meeting you host will have different objectives and varying numbers of attendees. To accommodate this, you should assign roles to each attendee. This helps to promote clear expectations and organization within the meeting space. It gives attendees something to focus on other than just their own thoughts and responsibilities. Role assignments can be as simple as “scribe” and “timekeeper”, or they can be more specific, such as “social media manager” and “search engine optimization manager”. The more specific you make your role assignments, the more efficient and productive your meeting will be. You may want to assign roles based on the expertise or information each attendee brings to the table. Or you can assign roles based on what each attendee will be responsible for after the meeting. Assigning meeting roles gives attendees something specific to do during the meeting, as well as something to do after the meeting concludes.
Cut Out Distractions
As much as you’d like to believe that everyone in the room is giving 100 percent of their attention to the meeting, it’s simply not true. We’re human, we have those pesky human tendencies we’re always trying to overcome. One of these is that we’re easily distracted by our surroundings. You want to do everything in your power to cut out distractions so that your team can give their full attention to the meeting at hand. Begin by controlling the room temperature and lighting. Research has shown that higher temperatures and brighter lights cause us to be less attentive. Try to keep the room temperature between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and the lights dimmed or off. You can also cut out distractions by politely asking attendees to put away their cellphones and other devices. Be sure to include yourself in this rule! It’s easy to get lost in your phone when others are talking, even if you have nothing to do with the meeting.
Create Productivity Tools
Another way to create a productive meeting environment is to make the most out of productivity tools. You have to be flexible enough to change the tools you use based on the situation, and you have to use the tools to promote and maximize productivity. When you use productivity tools, you have more time to think about the content and less time trying to find your notes, data, or other materials. Take these three tools as examples: - A digital agenda: A digital agenda is a great way to keep track of your agenda and choose your meeting room based on its technology. - A meeting management tool: A meeting management tool can help you and your team keep track of everyone’s agenda, time, and tasks. - An online collaboration tool: Online collaboration tools can help your team work together to build consensus and structure ideas.
Creating a productive meeting environment is challenging, but it can be done. It all starts with creating an open and collaborative meeting environment, establishing rituals, and assigning roles. Once you’ve cut out distractions, you can use productivity tools to maximize your meeting time. With these five keys in mind, you can create a productive meeting environment, where your team is able to work together and achieve their goals. Now, it’s up to you to implement these five keys to creating a productive meeting environment. Once you’ve done so, you and your team will feel less stressed and more excited about working together.