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8 common meeting challenges and how to solve them

Published on
May 20, 2024

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The best use of a sales rep’s time is in making prospect calls, closing deals, and exceeding sales targets. But do you know where they spend a lot of their time instead? Attending meetings!

Let us face it- some meetings can feel like the opposite of progress. And it is not just a feeling; 55% of sales reps say meetings steal valuable selling time. But they do not have to be a time suck. With the right approach, meetings can drive collaboration and results as they were meant to.

Let’s talk about the most common sales meeting challenges and specific strategies for overcoming those meeting issues. 

What are some universal meeting challenges?

You know those days when it feels like your whole schedule is disappearing into long meetings? While often necessary, poorly run meetings can destroy productivity and leave your team frustrated and demotivated. 

Let us dive into the most common meeting challenges and how to turn things around. Your time is valuable, so let us make every minute count.

1. Lack of clear meeting agenda

Problem: 

We have all been there- those meetings that drag on, wander off-topic and leave everyone questioning their purpose. Without an agenda, conversations become aimless, important updates are missed, and everyone leaves feeling frustrated.

Solution:

No matter how brief, productive meetings need a pre-circulated agenda outlining the objectives. This forces the organizer to re-think the meeting’s purpose and keeps everyone focused once the call starts. 

Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself: Could this be handled with a well-crafted email instead? Encourage your team to think critically about when a meeting is truly necessary. 

Remember, while daily meeting quotas are important, sales productivity metrics paint the bigger picture. Focusing on both ensures your team stays on track with immediate tasks while driving long-term growth.

2. Too many meeting attendees

Problem:

Ever been stuck in a “full-house” meeting where half the attendees are barely paying attention? These overcrowded calls slow down decision-making, side conversations derail discussions, and it is easy for important information to get lost in the noise.

Solution:

Carefully consider who truly needs to be involved to achieve the meeting’s objectives. Just because someone is generally related to the topic does not automatically warrant an invite. It is better to have a smaller, focused attendee list and a recording or meeting summary sent to the rest of the team. There are multiple meeting summary templates available online. You can take inspiration from the best of them.

To overcome meeting challenges like these, try leading by example. If your team sees you carefully curating meeting invite lists, they are more likely to follow suit when it is their turn.

3. Dominant voices and rambling

Problem: 

We all know those team members who love to hear themselves talk and hijack the conversation. But when a few people dominate the conversation, it leaves less space for others to contribute, and the meeting diverts off-track.

Solution: 

A designated facilitator (which could be the sales manager or rotating team members) can be the answer to workplace meeting challenges such as these. They can keep discussions on track, ensure everyone has a chance to speak, and gently steer ramblers back to the agenda. 

You can also consider assigning meeting time limits to each item on the agenda. This creates urgency and reduces the risk of getting bogged down on single issues. 

If there are ideas that you or your team believes are not quite on topic but still deserve mention during the meeting, create a designated space (physical or digital) to capture them. Better yet, leverage Oliv’s automated highlighting feature to instantly tag those crucial ideas during the call.  No more frantic note-taking- those valuable insights are automatically preserved and easily accessible for after-sales follow-up. This acknowledges their value without disrupting the meeting environment. If certain individuals are repeat ramblers, a private conversation might be needed to address their meeting behavior more directly.

4. Lack of follow-up

Problem: 

We have often left workplace meetings feeling energized, only for that momentum to evaporate when action items gradually begin to fade from our memory. Did you know that 63% of meetings tend to have zero follow-up? Without them, even the best discussions amount to nothing, eroding team morale.

Solution: 

Meeting notes are important:  decisions made, tasks to tackle, and those all-important deadlines. Do not let those details slip through the cracks. Oliv’s meeting summaries note down every minute detail from prospect calls that can be leveraged in follow-ups or during closing.  Want to track tasks in Asana or Trello? Oliv integrates as well. Need those reminders where your team actually sees them? Oliv has got you covered with direct Slack integration.

Do not forget to regularly check in on meeting-related action items. This shows your team you are serious about follow-through and helps identify bottlenecks before they derail progress and get added to the list of meeting challenges.

Are there any virtual-only meeting challenges?

Love or hate virtual meetings, they are probably here to stay. But let us be honest, they come with their own set of awkwardness and frustration. Let us tackle those virtual meeting challenges and make them more productive (and maybe even a little less painful).

1. Technical troubles

Problem:

There is nothing quite like the sinking feeling you get when someone’s audio cuts out, their camera freezes mid-sentence, or worse, an unexpected barking dog interrupts an important discussion. Tech hiccups disrupt the meeting flow and can even derail progress entirely.

Solution: 

One of the best ways to tackle these virtual meeting challenges is to encourage pre-meeting tech checks, especially for high-stakes calls. A quick test of audio and video can save major headaches later. If reliable WiFi is an issue for certain team members, suggest using a wired internet connection for stability.

You can set ground rules around things like muting mics when not speaking, choosing distraction-free backgrounds, and having a backup plan if tech issues arise. Do not let tech glitches overshadow the human side of things. A little patience and humor when things go wrong can go a long way in keeping morale up.

2. Combatting Zoom fatigue

Problem: 

Virtual meetings can be exhausting, even without any physical work involved.  Zoom fatigue is not just a buzzword- it is a real drain on productivity and morale and, therefore, demands the same attention as other more commonly discussed meeting challenges. 

Solution: 

Respect your team’s attention spans and reduce mental overload. For longer meetings, build in short breaks every hour or so. This allows attendees to step away from the screen, rest their eyes, and come back refreshed and focused on the meeting and sales goals

Also, let them know it is okay to turn their cameras off occasionally. Staring at yourself on-screen adds to the mental drain. Taking care of these effective meeting practices helps make the time spent more worthy and productive.

3. Engagement and participation

Problem: 

It is hard to gauge how your team is doing in a virtual meeting. That blank screen might be someone paying close attention, or it might be someone checking their email. This lack of feedback makes it much harder to keep everyone engaged.

Solution: 

Polling tools, even simple ones built into the video conferencing platform, lets you check the attendees’ understanding and gets everyone to participate. For larger meetings, smaller breakout rooms allow for more focused discussions and give everyone a chance to speak up.

Sometimes, directly asking someone for their input is the best way to bring them back into the conversation- as long as you are polite and respectful. Paying attention to those who tend to disengage during virtual meetings might be a good idea. A private follow-up chat might bring up specific issues or meeting challenges that need addressing.

4. Building rapport virtually

Problem: 

Remember when you could swing by a colleague’s desk for a quick pep talk? Or grab lunch with your work best friend to vent about a difficult client? Remote work has made those little moments much harder. Without them, it is easy for teams to feel disconnected, even if they are getting the work done.

Solutions: 

Start meetings with a few minutes of informal chatter or a quick icebreaker. This sets a more relaxed tone and helps people connect beyond the task list. 

Schedule dedicated (non-work-focused) virtual events. Games, trivia, or even simple “show and tell” sessions help folks see each other as people, not just titles.

Do not underestimate the power of genuine interest. Remembering a team member’s hobby or asking about their weekend goes a long way in building those virtual relationships. Sometimes, the best ideas come from those casual chats. Tools like Gather.town let you have those “watercooler” moments with your team, even if you’re miles apart.

Gather.com helps to build team rapport

5 tips for great meetings

Let us be honest- most of us dread at least some of the meetings that we have to attend. However, it does not have to be that way unless some ineffective meeting practices are followed. A few simple shifts can make meetings feel productive or even, dare we say it, enjoyable. 

Here are five tips to overcome common meeting challenges:

1. Keep it action-focused

Before scheduling any meeting, ask yourself: What is the decision we need to make or the specific problem we need to solve? Having a clear outcome prevents those rambling “catch-ups” that accomplish nothing. It shows you respect your team’s time.

Create a targeted agenda. Outline the key points for discussion, the specific decisions needed, and who is responsible for bringing what information to the table. This ensures everyone arrives prepared to contribute. Oliv’s effective meeting prep can make a list of points to discuss or follow up on during the meeting.

2. Trust the power of visuals

We have all zoned out during a meeting, whether in-person or online. A few simple slides, even bullet points, do wonders to keep everyone engaged and take care of many of the meeting challenges. It turns a rambling monologue into a clear path forward, especially during those long-drawn virtual meetings.

3. Ask for feedback for improvement

We all want meetings to be productive, but it is hard to know if they’re hitting the mark without honest input.  That is why anonymous surveys are so valuable. It is your team’s chance to say, “We love the quick check-ins, but those Tuesday brainstorming sessions need a fresh approach.”  Asking for feedback shows your commitment to making those meetings work for everyone, not just the person running them.

4. Opt for standing meetings

Picture this: It is 3 pm, your sales reps are heads-down on a project, and ding- it is a meeting invite that will eat up the rest of their afternoon. Instead, try quick daily huddles- 15 minutes where everyone gives a status update. 

Often, you can knock out meeting challenges and issues right then and there, saving hours of back-and-forth emails or those huge, unfocused meetings later.

5. Celebrate meeting successes

When goes well, shout it out. Maybe your team nailed a tough problem, or the new meeting format is saving everyone’s sanity. Saying “Great job today, everyone.” reinforces those positive behaviors and boosts morale. 

Remember, changing meeting challenges into productive habits takes time. Start with a few of these tips, see how they work, and gradually add more. You will be amazed at how these small shifts in meeting habits can make a huge difference for your team.

How does Oliv help with meeting challenges?

Tuesday morning, another endless string of meetings... and you already know some will be a waste of time. 

Enter Oliv, your AI-powered meeting assistant.

Oliv AI revolutionizes meetings by analyzing past discussions and crafting clear agendas

1. The master planner

No more rambling meetings with no purpose; Oliv helps you craft clear agendas by analyzing past discussions and your team’s goals so you only tackle what truly matters. 

It even identifies who truly needs to be involved, ensuring only the right people are pulled away from their work. Need a confidence boost before a big meeting? Oliv subtly suggests talking points to keep those conversations flowing smoothly.

2. The time keeper

This is for those meetings that veer wildly off-track. Oliv gently nudges discussions back to the agenda with subtle reminders, keeping everyone focused on the task. Stuck on a tough decision? Oliv helps you break those stalemates by surfacing relevant data on the fly- saving you from digging through past emails or spreadsheets. 

And say goodbye to that post-meeting “what did we decide?” haze- Oliv captures clear, actionable next steps

3. The taskmaster

Oliv does not just stop at the end of the meeting. It seamlessly integrates with your favorite project management tools, automatically turning those action items into real progress, not just a list forgotten at the bottom of someone’s notebook. 

Plus, with Oliv’s automatic recording and transcription, you will never miss a key detail. Need to revisit a conversation? A simple search is all it takes.

Ready to level up your meetings? Conclusion

Meetings might feel like a necessary evil, but they do not have to be a productivity black hole. You can turn those dreaded calendar blocks into sessions that energize your team by singling out meeting challenges specific to your team and adopting a few simple strategies. 

To quickly recap:

  • Set clear agendas and outcomes beforehand.
  • Be ruthless about the invite list.
  • Encourage feedback to continuously improve.
  • Celebrate those meeting wins.

Request a free Oliv demo to tackle those meeting challenges one after the other… and who knows, maybe even start looking forward to your next meeting.

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