In meetings, it’s fairly easy to get sidetracked. Anything that prevents you from starting on time or derails the discussion are considered distractions. These can be simple things such as figuring out how to connect your laptop to a display or passing the HDMI cable to another presenter (only for them to realize that their notebook uses a different connector). These little inconveniences add up and can disrupt the flow of a good conversation. As much as possible, eliminate them.
Meeting participants should not get bogged down by trivial technical issues. If your meeting room technologies—whether it’s a display, projector, or VoIP setup—limit the types of devices you can use or make tasks more complicated, consider replacing them. Meeting room tools should be simple enough to operate so that you can simply walk into a room and start right away.
Lastly, efficient meetings should be highly collaborative. Business meetings, at their core, are not solitary activities. Different functional personnel are gathered for their input because their varying expertise are needed to come up with holistic solutions. This is why creating opportunities for feedback collection and collaborative work is essential, especially during brainstorming sessions.
Tools such as a whiteboard (either physical or cloud-based), interactive screen sharing, or polling systems facilitate active collaboration and let meeting participants do more than just verbalize their thoughts. Cloud whiteboards, in particular, allow coworkers to not only visualize their ideas, but also drop multimedia files onto the board to get their points across more effectively.
Interactive screen sharing, on the other hand, allows meeting participants to collaborate by editing a deck or ongoing project onscreen in real time. Compared to the traditional way of presenting a static slide deck, where feedback is collated during the meeting and then applied later on, having the project file open during the meeting ensures that changes are not forgotten and are implemented correctly. Of course, not every project or discussion can be finalized in one sitting. Good meeting room solutions should allow you to record or export your sessions so you can continue them at a later time.
Meetings should facilitate productive conversations. Done right, with the proper tools, you can hold more effective sessions without distractions or limitations.