Be a PAL: 5 ways to make workplace meetings enjoyable for everyone

Here’s one thing executives, managers and employees can all agree on: Meetings have got to change

Published February 25, 2017 5:59PM (EST)


This article originally appeared on OpenWork.


Workplace meetings should be the time of day everyone looks forward to most: a chance to get together with your team members, show off your latest projects and receive valuable feedback. That’s in a perfect world. We all know that in reality meetings are more often the part of the workday everyone dreads. Overstuffed agendas, unfocused conversations and endless banter can make meetings a drag. But some intentional planning — and an effort to make every attendee accountable for the meeting’s success — can change everything. Here’s what five workplace pros have found most helpful.

1. Involve everyone

“We found that many of the younger employees were distracted and not engaged in meetings. We made a change and now give newer staff the responsibility of creating the meeting’s agenda and covering any and all aspects that they feel need to be addressed. The staff is now all more engaged, and I learn a few aspects of the daily operations that we would have otherwise never known about.”

— Brian C. Ulch, Senior Portfolio Manager, Aventail Wealth Management

2. Break it up

“Instead of one very long ‘all-hands’ meeting, we focus on breaking up the meeting into several small parts. The first portion is updates or issues everyone needs to discuss. After this takes place (15 to 20 minutes), several team members are dismissed so that a specific topic relevant to leadership and the management team can be discussed. This happens a number of times, giving back team members time they would lose in a traditional meeting setting and forcing them to be 100 percent focused when their turn is up.”

— Alida Miranda-Wolff, Associate Manager, Hyde Park Angels

3. Be a PAL

“Every meeting needs a PAL — Purpose, Agenda and Time Limit — to be successful. When everyone invited to the meeting knows why they are there and gets the agenda in advance, and it clearly states how in-depth each topic covered will be discussed, you are well on your way to a great meeting! This way if people need to do some research in advance or have a pre-meeting to discuss something before bringing it up in front of the full group, they have time to prepare and no time is wasted around the table.”

 — Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls

 4. Ask your team if meetings are working

“Ask for meeting feedback at the end: whether people have solved their questions, whether they feel the meeting was useful, what needs to be improved. Keep this part short but effective; this is not a retrospective meeting, it is just a quick feedback.”

— Tania Ivanova, Project Manager, Waverley Software

5. Get up, stand up

“If you need to reach decisions quickly, standing meetings with no technology allowed are great. Sometimes changing the typical location of a meeting does the trick as well: brainstorming sessions in a coffee shop or opting for a walk-and-talk meeting. Sometimes having a meeting while playing foosball is a really effective strategy. People can’t really hold on to their computers or notes, so they need to have the whole structure of what they’re going to say in their minds. All of these are great, the key is picking the right one for the meeting at hand.”

— Estera Dezelak, Marketing Communications, JOAN

By Brendan Spiegel

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