What do business meetings and parole board meetings have in common? Poorly run meetings are a tremendous waste of time and money, as I’ve pointed out in the past. Yet, there’s an even more troubling — and often hidden — cost to mismanaged meetings: bad business decisions.
The truth is, meetings are where important business decisions get made. Yet, weak communication of critical information leads to costly decision-making pitfalls, like:
- Unnecessary delays in making important decisions.
- Poor quality decisions based on a misunderstanding of the situation.
- Project failures resulting from poor resource allocation decisions.
Surprisingly, research on parole board decision-making highlights a major factor contributing to poor decision-making.It turns out that similarly profiled inmates serving the same sentences for the same crimes are much more likely to win their freedom during a morning parole board meeting, rather than one held in the afternoon.1
It’s due to a phenomenon that any busy professional understands: “decision fatigue.”
According to a New York Times article on research conducted by University of Minnesota psychologist Kathleen Vohs:
"We all have a finite amount of what they call 'executive' resources — the cognitive ability to process information and make decisions.(Presumably, what you're supposed to do in all those meetings you're in.) Vohs and other neuroscientists found that those resources are rapidly depleted in meetings, and once that happens, there's nothing left to give. Too many meetings is literally draining the productivity out of your brain."
It’s not surprising, then, that people often find meetings tedious and tiring. In one study, 39% of respondents even admitted to dozing off during meetings.2
Meeting attendees suffer from decision fatigue, just like parole board officers. The consequence? Decision quality suffers.
That means if you want to improve decision quality and your company’s Return on Meeting Time, you have to help people avoid decision fatigue.
What Works: Three Proven Ideas Here are three proven approaches to helping meeting leaders and participants overcome decision fatigue:
(1) Structure and simplify information transfer.
Too many meetings suffer from a focus on data-rich, PowerPoint-driven discussion — rather than on making decisions.
Too much information and discussion overwhelms people. Fight back against decision fatigue by simplifying meeting communications and focusing them intensely on the decision(s) at hand.
(2) Start with the problem, not the solution.
Much of the tiring “wheel spinning” that happens in meetings is a result of prematurely debating solutions before reaching agreement on the nature and scope of the problem.
This results in undue mental toil and suboptimal decisions.
A better approach? Begin meeting deliberations by quickly focusing on the situation at hand.
Outline the complicating factors and the implications of not addressing those factors. This gets everyone on the same page as to what the challenge is and what's at stake if you don’t address it.
(3) Share your recommendations early.
Many people mistakenly believe that presenting a detailed, step-by-step “case” concluding with a dramatically presented solution gets the best results.
Unfortunately, this approach leads to mental fatigue for participants. And, your chances of losing someone’s attention — before you get to the grist of your proposal — skyrocket.
A better approach? Give participants and decision-makers an early preview of your recommendations.
Then, provide support for those recommendations throughout the meeting, rather than waiting to spring the solution on them in a dramatic ending.
If you wait until the end to make your proposal, you’ll have likely lost the attention of fatigued decision makers.
Helping your team fight decision fatigue is key to improving your company’s productivity and Return on Meeting Time.By implementing any one (or all three) of the above recommendations, you and your team should see a marked improvement in meeting quality, but especially in the outcomes of those meetings.
If you're unsure of how to go about implementing these ideas, I encourage you to learn more about the Mandel BLUEPRINT®.
The BLUEPRINT is a repeatable, step-by-step communications framework that helps people organize their thoughts and then present them in clearer, more concise, and persuasive ways, to drive better decision-making.
What does the hit on Netflix called The Queen’s Gambit tell us about how to sell in a virtual setting? Actually, something very important.
Before we break down how this show teaches us the key to virtual selling let’s look at the backstory.
Gratitude. Appreciation. Recognition. It makes you feel good. This week in the US, many will pause for a day or two to give thanks and show appreciation for the things and people we care about most. It’s no secret how appreciation benefits the person getting it—but did you know it benefits the person giving it just as much?
Discover why recognition is such a powerful tool for improving relationships and wellbeing in life—and at work. Learn how to (and how NOT to) express your appreciation to others.
People in communities across the globe are adjusting to communicating while wearing masks. As we’re all experiencing, masks present both verbal and non-verbal communication challenges.Given this, we’ve prepared 5 tips for effective communications while wearing a mask, and compiled several insightful articles from leading publications on additional best practices.
If your 2020 user conference plans were impacted by the pandemic, you’re not alone. And if, like many, you’ve chosen to move forward by converting to a virtual conference, you’ll be relying more than ever on your speakers’ skills. Share these 8 tips with your virtual conference speakers to help them prepare to impress.
It happened fast. One day you were meeting with your colleagues at the office. The next day you and everyone you work with are working in remote isolation from home. Whether you’re new to working remotely or an experienced veteran, we all need to raise our virtual collaboration game to not only make this new reality work, but to make it work really well. Read on to discover seven practical, high impact tactics you can implement right now to ensure the success of your virtual meetings.
Customers coming to a user conference aren’t there for the fanfare, they’re there for the expertise. If you’re an expert speaking at a user conference, you’re highly knowledgeable and passionate about your topic, but you might not be an expert at speaking in front of an audience. Here are five practical tips that you can implement right away for any upcoming speaking event.
Learn how making a few smart, yet simple, changes to your email can improve your odds of quickly getting the response you need.
Read the blog and learn how to make your next team offsite your most productive yet.
TED Talks have become a go-to example for how to give an engaging presentation from the big stage. They can be informative, inspiring, and often incredibly entertaining. But is the TED Talk format right for a business presentation delivered in a conference room? Probably not — but the skills used by TED Talk presenters definitely are!
Learn how to identify what goes into a successful TED Talk and how to make those skills work for you in your everyday business presentations.
Learn Mandel’s 3-step model for skillfully responding — not reacting — to tough questions with confidence and ease.
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