One top priority of business meetings is to come up with productive results that can help a business solve their existing problems or advance their goals. To achieve this goal, meetings should be free from any distractions so participants can focus on their intended outcome. But this ideal situation doesn’t happen all the time!
Meetings filled with distractions lead to less productive results. which in turn can halt a business’s progress or make it less competitive in its field. That’s not what you want for your business, right?
If you are having trouble keeping your meetings free from distractions, then check out our list of measures to avoid any unwanted situations that could disrupt your next meeting.
1. CHECK YOUR ATTENDEES HOURS BEFORE THE MEETING
Make sure everybody has what they need before the meeting.
One thing that creates big distractions during business meetings is when attendees forget important items like adapters and connectors. This problem can waste a lot of time that could have been used on more productive activities.
If you organized a meeting, make it a point to check all your attendees’ needs hours before. Doing so will greatly reduce the chances of having troubles that would delay the flow of the meeting and reduce its productivity.
2. ALWAYS HAVE BACKUP EQUIPMENT
Keep backups for your meeting essentials at hand.
Nothing can be more frustrating than your laptop, PC, or projector crashing during your meeting. To avoid this problem, prepare backup equipment before starting. This measure might seem simple, but it will help you avoid big problems that could waste the time of you and your attendees.
3. NOTIFY THE ATTENDEES TO PUT THEIR PHONES ON SILENT MODE
Turn off notifications on all phones, whether it's for a call or a Facebook message.
Before every meeting, do not forget to notify all the attendees to put their phones on vibrate. In a silent room, one ring is enough to distract everyone’s attention, and it’s a clear sign of disrespect to the other attendees.
4. REFRAIN FROM USING PHONES
Don't use your phone unless it's an emergency.
No, this doesn’t mean you and your attendees should be legalistic with the ‘no phone policy’. What it does mean is that everyone should avoid using their phones unless completely necessary. This is especially important when PowerPoint presentations are being done because the brightness of anyone’s phone can distract all the other attendees inside a dark room.
Also, constantly checking a phone is disrespectful to anyone who speaks at the meeting; it shows disinterest and might send a negative message to the speaker.
5. REFRAIN FROM HAVING SIDE CONVERSATIONS
Stay on topic.
Side conversations should be avoided inside the meeting room. Since attendees would want to focus on the business matters that will be discussed in the meeting, they should not tolerate any distractions caused by unrelated conversations. Although some small talk is okay now and then, don’t let it turn into an entire conversation that could sidetrack your meeting. Be aware that even a short distraction can have a negative impact on the output of any meetings, so avoid it as much as possible.
6. GET YOUR ATTENDEES INVOLVED
It's a meeting, not a presentation—let them participate.
Attendees will feel more engaged and interested if they feel that they’re more involved in the meeting. One way to do so is by handing your attendees whiteboard markers and erasers, and letting them contribute ideas on a big whiteboard inside the meeting room. Knowing that their ideas matter in the meeting heightens their interest and focus on what is being discussed.
7. ASSESS THE LOCATION OF THE MEETING
Choose your venue wisely.
The exact location of the meeting might be the attendees’ biggest distraction. A few days before the meeting, check if the immediate surroundings have elements that can distract your attendees’ attention.
These things can be construction operations, bad weather that will hit the vicinity or even a nearby crime scene. Keep an eye on any such distractions so you can relocate your meeting place as early as possible.
8. CHECK THE MEETING ROOM’S LIGHTING AND AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM
You can't have meetings in a hot, dark room!
No lights or air conditioning? These don’t just create distractions during business meetings—they totally cancel them. Anyone would probably take checking these things for granted, but it pays to be prepared than risk canceling an important meeting.
9. LOCK THE DOOR WHEN THE MEETING STARTS
Say goodbye to latecomers.
Do you want a distraction-free meeting? Then remind the attendees beforehand that the meeting room’s door won’t just be closed, but will be locked once the meeting starts. It is a big (and irritating) distraction when latecomers rush inside a meeting room, cutting off the smooth flow of the meeting.
Aside from being a distraction, it sends a signal of disrespect that can certainly affect the mood of the speaker or the early comers in the meeting.
10. HAVE A ‘TOPLESS’ MEETING
Put away the laptops unless completely necessary.
No, we don’t mean you should take your shirts off! The term ‘topless’ meeting refers to a meeting where laptops are totally banned. Some might see this as an ‘extreme’ measure, but it’s actually effective. It is a way to prevent attendees from working on other things so they can focus on what is being discussed.
Attendees, with their laptops flipped open, will always be tempted to finish a couple of tasks that are not related to the meeting. Banning laptops inside a meeting room will help attendees focus.
11. LAST BUT NOT LEAST, OFFER THE ATTENDEES THE CHOICE TO ACCEPT OR DECLINE A MEETING
Let people say yes or no.
So you’ve set standards for your meetings, what now? Let your attendees know beforehand. If they cannot follow these standards, you may offer them the choice to decline the meeting. You don’t want unwilling attendees, which could ruin the mood for the others.
These might sound like tough measures, but they’re necessary changes when your meetings always fail to provide the results you want. These regulations must be followed if you are serious about avoiding any distractions during your important meetings.