Tip 1: Set a random meeting time
In Singapore, lateness tends to be the norm. Whether because of bad traffic or train breakdowns, or just because we’re not very good planners, not starting meetings on time is a very bad habit. “One tip to make sure you start on time is to set the meeting time at an odd timing. So instead of saying the meeting starts at 8am, say it’ll start at 8:07,” Joewin shares. “The tendency of people reaching on time is higher.”
“According to research, people will process that they have to reach at 8, even though the stipulated time is 8:07, so then they tend to be on time. I’ve tried it on my team and it works! I’ve done a few meetings at 8 or 9am and we had a few latecomers, but when I set the meeting at 9:06 or 9:08, most of them are on time.”
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Tip 2: Send out the agenda in advance
Joewin reveals this is a vital thing that people always seem to forget, not realising that this advance prep work will make the meeting so much more effective and focused. “Usually, when agendas aren’t sent in advance, people tend to beat about the bush and talk for the sake of talking because they haven’t really thought through the different key points of the meeting.”
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She recommends sending the agenda one to two days in advance if possible, to give people some time to sit on it and come prepared. “It gives people time to look through the material and think of questions to ask, or even come up with suggestions to bring to the meeting,” she shares. “This is especially good for board meetings, where many of the members are very busy people, so you want to make sure you give ample time.”
It also does well to consider how much time to allocate for each portion of the meeting. “Always allocate enough time for the most important agenda,” Joewin suggests.
Tip 3: Create the right environment
When you think of companies like Google, Facebook and Netflix, you’ll probably feel a little jealous of their beautiful offices. “There’s a reason why people are moving away from cubicles and going for the open-desk concept,” Joewin shares. “Big companies like Google invest so much in their ambiance because they know their people can thrive in that kind of environment. The way the office space is designed, especially with co-working spaces, actually encourages people to be a lot more creative, and encourages collaboration.”
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Asian culture tends to more hierarchical, Joewin points out. “We tend to think that the boss’s idea is always the best, even if there’s something better. So during meetings, if the bosses are always leading it, subordinates tend not to want to share their ideas.”
That’s why working in a creatively-designed space can increase productivity, as it provides the right environment for people to open up. “Creative spaces allow people to come out of their shell, as they kind of put down their barriers or defence walls and start to feel like ‘It’s okay for me to share’,” Joewin says.
Tip 4: Daylight boosts concentration
“Daylight helps people concentrate better,” Joewin says. It’s a known fact that natural light is good for you, and studies have been done which show that students can retain information a lot better when taught in classrooms that have plenty of windows. It’s also why many modern skyscrapers are built with full glass windows!
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Tip 5: Move your meetings out of the office
“Whenever you do a meeting in your own office, it’s very often interrupted – whether by someone wanting to get a signature or take a phone call, or ask the boss for something,” Joewin notes. “You may also always be on your phone or reading emails.”
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These big distractions lower productivity, as your mind cannot be in two places at once, she shares. “The reality of multitasking – even though they say women are very good at it – is that we have to divide our attention spans to two or three different tasks at once, and that means each task isn’t done well.”
Bringing your meeting out of the office to a space immediately solves the problem of office-side distractions, and if your new meeting space has good ambiance, food and other amenities, you’ll have happier co-workers and a much more productive meeting.
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