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How to stop having bad meetings

Are your meetings a real yawn? Do they start late, run long and wander off point at the drop of a hat? Do folks frequently have to stop to search for a copy of the file you were discussing or to find colleagues who need to weigh in?

It’s time to find a better way and to turn ho-hum meetings into focused, information-packed sessions where things actually get done.

Here are four tips you can use to get started.

  1. Make them inclusive.

Let’s face it. These days, it’s nearly impossible to get everyone in the same place at the same time. Field workers and employees who work at home or in branch offices have become the norm. But it’s easy for them to feel isolated. If you want to get the most out of your remote team, it’s important to keep them engaged so they don’t feel left out of the loop on decisions that impact them. And that means having the right tools.

Imagine every employee having their own virtual “meeting room”, complete with video conferencing, desktop and application sharing for productive meetings. Even initiate a meeting with all the relevant participants (internal and external) from the same place. You are properly equipped, all the important players can join your meetings and participate fluidly from anywhere, just as if they were seated next to you in a conference room.  And they can use whatever device is most handy – whether a laptop or desktop PC, smartphone or tablet.

  1. Capture attention.

Some business leaders go to great lengths to try to capture and hold attention during a meeting. We’ve heard stories about people who sing, tell jokes and wear crazy outfits. But the truth is, you don’t have to be a performer to keep everyone engaged and on point.

When you use video conferencing for your meetings, everyone becomes focused on the faces and images in front of them. And unlike a voice-only conference, you can see reactions, sense confusion and know when minds are beginning to wander. You can stop and ask questions, solicit opinions and clarify key messages. One added bonus: your attendees can’t multitask and read the morning paper while everyone is watching them on screen!

  1. Get on the same page.

How many times have you been ready to jump on a conference call only to discover the document you were going to discuss isn’t at your fingertips? You lose valuable time before or even during the meeting digging through your inbox for what you need.

When using a cloud-based virtual “meeting room” service, that is part of a unified suite of communication and collaboration tools, you can end the last-minute scramble. Simply set up an online team workspace, invite colleagues, customers and partners to join and launch your video conference from there. Display an agenda to keep everyone focused. Pull up a presentation or proposal and let participants comment and edit the information online. Send a quick instant message to a colleague whose opinion you need, complete with a link they can click to join the conference.  You can literally bring and keep everyone together on the same page.

  1. Make them simple.

Despite the advantages of video conferencing, some solutions have been around for a while and these “old school” offerings are no fun. They can be difficult to use and costly to maintain. Even tech experts can get stumped by the complex controls.

But that’s just the beginning of the headaches. Often room-based systems won’t work with desktop video or mobile devices – limiting their usefulness right out of the gate. They also can be cumbersome to reserve. You’ve got to book the room and then create a separate meeting invite with all the details. Make a mistake or change the time and the two can easily get out of sync.

When you adopt video conferencing delivered over the cloud, everything becomes much more simple. Rather than struggle with complicated controls, you can conference seamlessly with any mobile device, PC or room equipped with a large-screen monitor.  They all use the same intuitive user interface.

You can even add your video room reservation to your company calendar for one-step booking that is always in sync.  Simply select an open time and launch an invitation from the same interface – no re-typing required. Participants “click to join” from your meeting notice using their device of choice. It couldn’t be any simpler.

Download this infographic to learn more about bad meetings and how you can make them more productive