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Analysis: inefficient meetings compromising global productivity

New research by Barco ClickShare has uncovered some of the reasons why business meetings are frequently inefficient and the impact this has on productivity.

The global study surveyed 2,250 senior business professionals from companies in the UK, US, Germany, France and the UAE, exploring their meeting experiences in day-to-day working life. A further scientific experiment was also carried out with a small number of senior business executives, using EEG brain mapping technology to test their psychological responses to common meeting room scenarios.

The results highlight a range of issues that lead to disengagement, distraction and irritation for employees around the world. Factors like technology issues, the presence of food, seating arrangements and lack of engaging content were shown to have a significant negative impact on the effectiveness of meetings.

Nearly a third of respondents globally said they found less than half of their meetings to be useful, while 30% also said they had dozed off in a meeting before. Nearly half (48%) of all UK respondents said they had fallen asleep in meetings.

Checking emails and social media during meetings was also extremely common and another indication of disengagement and distraction. Over 70% of people said they regularly checked emails during meetings, while 37% access social media.

Of the factors that impact engagement in meetings, technology was identified as one of the most influential. Two-thirds (67%) of global respondents are regularly irritated by tech going wrong in meetings. Conversely, technology being correctly harnessed can improve engagement and productivity: 72% of respondents stated that the use of multimedia content in a presentation makes them feel more engaged.

There was a noticeable difference in comparisons between countries. German business people were the least affected by tech issues in meetings, whereas 55% of UAE-based respondents reported losing focus in meetings due to tech issues. The UK had a high propensity for tech issues also, with 48% reporting disengagement because of tech failure.

Lieven Bertier, head of go to market strategy and services meeting experience at Barco, explained: “Once a meeting is underway, it’s reasonable to assume that engagement levels are governed by the quality of the speaker. However, our research identified that the success of a meeting is determined by a variety of different factors. These factors include having the right technology at the beginning of the meeting to ensure a seamless flow of information, controlling the meeting room environment such as the serving of food, meeting room layout, and disturbances caused by lateness and work device usage.”

Dr Peter Collett, behavioural psychologist who led the experiment, added: “While many studies focus on how the presenter acts and behaves to improve meeting success, the research conducted by Barco ClickShare presents a unique insight into the factors which may go un-noticed. Presenters must ensure that the technology works and the room is set-up correctly for the audience. Starting on time and reducing interruptions will greatly increase success but using multimedia and injecting personality will ensure a great experience for all.”