Tips and Tricks

November 14, 2017 By John Boitnott

4 Body Language Signals That Employees Are Bored in Your Meetings (And How to Snap Them Out of it)

November 14, 2017

By John Boitnott

Read More from John Boitnott

November 14, 2017

4 Body Language Signals That Employees Are Bored in Your Meetings (And How to Snap Them Out of it)

By John Boitnott

Most leaders would love to believe that 100% of their meetings are 100% awesome, but it’s hard to do that when confronted with the fact that employees say one-third of the time they spend in meetings is unproductive. No matter how much effort you put into planning your workplace gatherings, you’ll likely find at least one employee is disengaged at some point during each session.

One of the keys to fixing the problem is first identifying it. During your next meeting, pay close attention to audience members who may seem disengaged. Instead of penalizing them by calling them out, set a goal to grab the interest of everyone who seemed bored for your next meeting.

The Body Language of Boredom

  • Fidgeting—Fidgeting can often be the biggest giveaway, since science shows it’s a behavior we engage in when we’re not fully interested in something. Attendees may not even be aware they’re doodling, tapping a pen on a notepad, or moving their feet rhythmically.
  • Restlessness—Yes, those conference room chairs can be uncomfortable, but if attendees are constantly shifting, they may be bored or trying to stay alert. Restlessness is a form of fidgeting.
  • Yawning—One employee yawning isn’t necessarily a sign your meeting is boring. The person could simply be sleep deprived. However, if yawns are present from multiple people throughout every meeting, it may signal that a change is in order.
  • Distraction—Pay attention to eye contact during the meeting. Are attendees focusing on the person speaking? Are they whispering to each other or checking their phones constantly? If multiple attendees are staring fixedly on random objects, especially with a dazed expression, minds are likely elsewhere.

The Path of Least Boredom

Once you’ve identified the problem, your next step is to fix it. Set out with a goal of ensuring even the most fidgety team member is fully engaged during all your meetings. In addition to learning to communicate better in all daily interactions, here are a few things you can do to make sure your meetings are engaging.

  • Have an agendaEvery good meeting starts with an agenda. Make sure yours keeps the meeting short and to the point.
  • Make it interactive—You shouldn’t be the only one speaking in your meetings. Make sure others have a chance to update everyone on their projects, chime in with their opinions, or express concerns.
  • Show appreciation—Employees like to know that their hard work is valued and they deserve to feel acknowledged. Take time during each meeting to thank individuals and note any special achievements they’ve had recently.
  • Rotate Meeting Leadership—One way to get employees interested is to give them the helm. This is especially useful for those team members who exhibit some leadership ability. Rotate who leads and work with them in the beginning until they master this task.

While no leader can make every employee happy all of the time, it’s important to make meetings as useful as possible. Managers should hold meetings only when necessary, keep them as short as possible, and even let employees run the show to improve morale and boost overall productivity.