11 Meeting Challenges (Plus Tips for Overcoming Them)
Updated February 27, 2023
Meetings are important for communicating information, collaborating with others, sharing ideas and making decisions within an organization or department. There are some challenges you may face if you plan or lead meetings that can make it difficult to be efficient and effective. If you plan and lead meetings, learning more about meeting challenges and how to overcome them can be beneficial.
In this article, we explain what meeting challenges are, detail 11 types of meeting challenges and provide helpful tips for running successful meetings.
What are meeting challenges?
Meeting challenges are obstacles you may encounter when planning, scheduling and leading a meeting. The meeting challenges you face can vary depending on if you hold virtual or in-person meetings, and they may also depend on where you work and the resources you have. By learning how to overcome meeting challenges, you can make meetings more efficient, increase employee satisfaction, communicate with team members and improve decision-making.
11 types of meeting challenges
These are some meeting challenges you may encounter when planning and leading meetings:
1. Length of meeting
The length of the meeting can be a challenge for many reasons. You may need more time to communicate with team members and engage in discussion, but plan a meeting that is too short. A meeting can also be too long, reducing efficiency and keeping team members from their work for too long. Determining the best length for a meeting can improve communication and increase your efficiency.
2. Pre-meeting materials
Before a meeting, you may need attendees to review materials. Pre-meeting materials can be a meeting challenge because some attendees may not review the materials, or you may not send them with enough time before the meeting. Planning the meeting and scheduling it at least a week in advance can allow you to distribute meeting materials and ensure team members understand the importance of reviewing them.
3. Speakers and guests
The people leading and speaking at your meeting can be a meeting challenge. You may prefer to have someone present who can't be or need attendants there who can't make it. Preparing backup plans and recording information about the meeting beforehand can make it easier to overcome meeting challenges with speakers and guests.
4. Inadequate room size
If you plan and lead a physical meeting, the size of the space available to you can be a meeting challenge. For example, if you are leading a large meeting but the space is too small, people may not fit or be uncomfortable. If the room isn't big enough, consider holding the meeting outdoors or in a larger area like a cafeteria.
5. Tools and equipment
The equipment you can use may also be a meeting challenge to overcome. Many meetings rely on technology to demonstrate and share information, and if those tools aren't available or don't work, it can make leading a meeting difficult. For example, if you plan a presentation for the meeting, but the projector doesn't work, it is more difficult to offer a visual. Preparing for equipment failure by printing physical copies of your slideshow or creating other presentation materials instead.
6. Unclear objectives
When planning your meeting, you may face the challenge of unclear objectives. When a meeting doesn't have simple and apparent objectives, it can be difficult to lead and communicate with team members. If there is no clear objective for a meeting, consider if you need to plan and lead it at all, or if you may be able to communicate through an email or other notice. Otherwise, creating a clear agenda and objective for the meeting can be helpful.
7. Information overload
Information overload is when a person struggles to remember important information because there is too much information at a time. Holding too many meetings or trying to provide too much information in each meeting can make it difficult for team members to retain the material and meet goals. By scheduling fewer meetings with clear objectives, you can reduce the amount of information in each meeting and make it easier for attendees to remember the content of the meeting and take the correct action.
8. Repetitive meetings
Another challenge you may face when planning and leading meetings are repetitive meetings. Repetitive meetings cover the same content or material again without making progress or yielding results. To avoid repetitive meetings, you can prioritize communicating through other channels and save meeting times for discussions and decisions making.
9. Time zone differences
If you lead virtual meetings, time zone differences may be a meeting challenge for you. This is because it may be a different time in the place where some of your attendees are, which can require some to attend the meeting early in the morning or late at night. To content with time zone differences, consider where each person is and determine a time that may work best for everyone. If someone has to attend early in the morning or late at night, consider scheduling the meeting at a good time for others and taking the challenging time for yourself.
10. Ineffective communication
Sometimes, meeting attendees can be uncomfortable or unsure of how to interact and speak during meetings. This can be a meeting challenge, especially when the purpose of the meeting is to gather input from team members. Consider beginning each meeting with small talk or conversational prompts to help the team feel more comfortable speaking with one another and within the space of the meeting.
11. Poor scheduling
In some organizations and industries, staff members may need time and space to complete their work. When scheduling meetings, try to avoid this challenge by considering which times are most conducive to good work for your team members. Meetings in the morning may be best, as they allow you and your staff to attend them and dedicate the rest of the working day to finishing tasks and projects.
Tips for running a successful meeting
These are some tips you can use to plan and lead a successful meeting:
Schedule fewer meetings: By making meetings more effective, you can schedule fewer meetings and avoid interrupting your team's concentration. Scheduling fewer meetings can save time for you and the team and improve positivity around meetings.
Plan to discuss and decide: Rather than sharing information for most of the meeting, plan to use the time to collaborate, brainstorm, discuss and make decisions. It is easy to communicate information through other methods, and saving meetings for discussion can increase efficiency.
Provide materials beforehand: Sending and distributing materials before the meeting can prepare attendees with the information they need beforehand. Meetings can be shorter and more efficient when each person is ready to discuss.
Create a meeting agenda: Planning your meeting with an agenda can allow you to lead more effectively and ensure you meet each objective. Consider planning times for breaks in a longer meeting and review the agenda at the beginning and end of the meeting to assess which objectives you met.
Prioritize employee work: Meetings can be time-consuming, and by prioritizing staff work, you can reduce meetings and make them more efficient. Meetings are more effective when they don't interfere with staff members' ability to complete their work and finish projects on time.
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