20% of people admit to falling asleep at meetings

In a recent survey of over 2,000 people, 20% admitted to having fallen asleep at a meeting, with men apparently slightly more likely to nod off than women. When you consider that middle managers spend around 35% of their time in meetings and senior managers more like 50%, making meetings interesting, engaging, productive and efficient should be close to the top of everyone’s lists.

In the world of remote working while fewer people may be falling asleep at meetings, it’s so easy to become distracted when you’re in front of a computer on a conference call.  There are e-mails and messages popping up in front of you, that report you have to finish by the end of the day and even a sports result to follow!

Meetings, like them or not, are a means of communicating and resolving issues. If they’re not your cup of tea, tough! They won’t go away. They can, however, be made a lot more effective. There’s little point in insisting that busy people attend meetings that waste their time, so follow these suggestions and you’ll reduce the chances of it happening:


1. Communicate the objectives and agenda to all participants before the meeting starts


2. Sort as much out as possible beforehand

If a document is going to be reviewed, everyone should read it beforehand.  Messaging within a group is a great way to resolve most of the issues before meeting.  Save the meeting to resolve the contentious or tricky issues, get everything else out of the way before you meet.


3. All appropriate people must be invited – and must attend


4. But on the other hand the numbers attending must also be kept to the minimum required – don’t invite spectators


5. Everyone should turn up on time


6. It should be made clear that everyone should concentrate on the meeting and not get distracted 

For face-to face meetings, people turning up with phones, tablets and laptops and using them during the meeting is unacceptable as is attendees on video conference becoming distracted by other stuff on their computer screens.


7. The meeting owner needs to be prepared and shouldn’t just try to ‘take it as it comes’


8. He or she must keep the meeting to the agenda and avoid being side-tracked


9. Actions and decisions from the meeting must be minuted and followed up.


10. Have consideration for remote participants to an office based meeting

If you’re in a meeting room with remote participants dialling in via audio or video conference have some consideration for the remote participants – they almost certainly aren’t picking up everything as well as you.  Make sure you ask for confirmation and contributions from the remote participants.  Keep them informed and involved.


11. Video conferencing is a lot more effective way of holding meetings between geographically remote staff than conference calls.

Unless the numbers become prohibitive, encourage participants on video conferences to switch their video on.  It’s a whole lot better talking to a real person than a disembodied voice on a voice call.


12.  Don’t attend meetings just because you were asked

You also need to decide how many meetings you, personally, need to attend. It’s very easy to find yourself overwhelmed by them, so be selective. You don’t need to go to them all and need to trust other team members to run meetings, and to find their own solutions to certain issues.  However, meetings are a good medium for you to collect data. This might be hard data about progress against a plan, risks and issues, or useful information about how you think the team is working together, or concerns about a supplier.


Want to know more?

Gren Gale is a project management consultant who runs PM Results is author of


Sign up for tips on Remote Working and Project Management and get our free white paper 'Choosing the Right Project Management Software for Remote Teams'



Thanks for subscribing - look out for the confirmation e-mail!