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Are meetings still worthwhile? They’re not dead, but low engagement is killing productivity

by | Nov 2, 2023 | Public Relations

Ask anyone in the office (besides the execs)—meetings just waste time that could be used to get actual work done, many think. Leaders, though, think meetings are the best ways to keep projects moving. Nevertheless, companies today are re-evaluating meeting policies and the role of meetings in today’s workplace, and new research from audience engagement platform Mentimeter found nearly 3 in 4 respondents (72 percent) agree that meetings are not dead.

Further, nearly all of the 4,000 people surveyed find meetings to be an effective (96 percent) and productive (94 percent) way to move work initiatives forward. However, the results also point to growing frustration around low meeting engagement, with the majority of leaders (52 percent) stating that participants do not speak up, engage or provide input enough during meetings.

In fact, the results reported in the firm’s new State of Meetings Report show that 62 percent of respondents correlate strong meeting engagement with higher levels of productivity, and 49 percent say that meetings are doomed to fail if leaders cannot incite engagement from the very beginning. The report also reveals that leaders may not be offering ample opportunities for participants to engage, or opening up the floor to discussion, with more than a third (38 percent) of respondents admitting they are the most talkative person in a meeting.

What are employees doing during meetings?

Are meetings still worthwhile? They’re not dead, but low engagement is killing productivity

“It’s clear from our findings that leaders view meetings as a powerful productivity tool, and that they are here to stay,” said Tobias Porserud, general manager of North America at Mentimeter, in a news release. “However, lack of engagement is killing productivity. It’s critical that for meetings to be the most productive, leaders need to move away from the old way of running meetings of talking at participants, and embrace strategies that practice inclusive, transparent, collaborative decision-making, harnessing the collective intelligence of the team.”

Additional findings include:

  • Heightened distraction is hampering meeting engagement, with 60 percent of respondents admitting that they have not shaken bad habits from the pandemic workplace. More than a third of participants admit to checking social media and texting friends and co-workers during meetings, about a quarter admit to shopping online and nearly a fifth of respondents say they are guilty of watching sports or a show during meetings. More than one in ten admit they have even slept during remote meetings when the camera is off.
  • The rising wave of Gen Z leaders is more introverted and distracted than previous generations, with nearly half (46 percent) of the respondents identifying as introverts. This group is most likely to be texting (42.7 percent) or checking social media or personal email during meetings (44.6 percent) than other generations.
  • Most respondents (63 percent) suggest leaders should encourage engagement by offering non-verbal (47 percent) or anonymous (45 percent) ways to participate through integrating fun and interactive tools (44 percent). Nearly half of Generation Z and Millennial respondents said having anonymous ways to react and respond to ideas as a helpful tool for engagement.
  • Sixty-two percent of respondents note that having multiple ways to engage in meetings would make them more productive. These engagements include likes, comments, reactions, polls and more.

Are meetings still worthwhile? They’re not dead, but low engagement is killing productivity

“It’s time to unlearn bad workplace habits lingering from the pandemic, and rethink the traditional role of meetings as not only a place for updates and box-checking but to create an engaging and productive culture where every voice is heard,” said Johnny Warström, co-founder and CEO of Mentimeter, in the release. “Leaders need to find more opportunities for meeting participants to engage, adapting to the needs of younger leaders who are more introverted and distracted than ever. Using meeting tools that are geared towards increasing engagement, thereby becoming a more effective leader and improving business outcomes.”

Download the full report here.

The survey queried 4,000 adults in North America, including business leaders ranging from managers and team leads to CEOs and Presidents; representing sales, marketing, finance, legal, human resources, operations, and more between April 21st and June 21st, 2023.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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