Meeting Spaces for the New Generation

boring meetings millennials

The New Generation (otherwise known as Generation Y, or Millennials) have been the subject of much discussion over the past year. Times Magazine, in an article entitled The Me Me Me Generation (splashed in white letters across the front cover), called Millennials “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents”.

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Ouch. Unfortunately, this is a view that is widely shared. To be sure, there are various differing opinions on this subject – but I shall refrain from hopping down the rabbit hole for fear of getting lost in the debate.

Generation Y: Not Loving Meetings

Instead, here’s an insight that I found rather interesting: While its certainly not news that meetings are thought of as a necessary evil, it appears that Generation Y, in particular, hates meetings with a vengeance. Here are a couple of statistics that caught my attention (bolds are mine):

  • Gen Y is least likely to think meetings are efficient. Only 29 percent of Gen Y workers think meetings used to decide on a course of action are very efficient, compared to 45 percent of  older [baby] boomers.
  • Gen Y is least likely to pay attention in meetings and barely half (51 percent) believe it’s very important to do so in meetings to decide a course of action.

It appears that millennials simply don’t think that meetings are necessary most of the time. Most believe that a simple email would disseminate information much more efficiently than sitting in a room with one another – meetings are only necessary if a decision needs to be made by the group as a whole. If forced to meet in person, Generation Y executives would end up pulling out their smartphones (or tablets) to multitask while their time is being perceivably wasted.

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Despite this, a report commissioned by Citrix Online suggests that face-to-face meetings are still very much being conducted in full force (bolds are mine):

  • 84% of all respondents have in-person meetings, but meetings often don’t achieve their goals.
  • Only 45% are very satisfied that planning meetings achieve the task at hand, and only 30% believe such meetings are efficient.

It turns out that most meetings are arranged not for discussion, but merely for presentation purposes. See that guy coming in the door with 50 PowerPoint slides? You know that the meeting will likely be a waste of time, and probably knock you out about 10 minutes in.

Yet, we know that face-to-face meetings are important in some cases – not simply for discussions, but also for building trust. How can we convince millennials to give us their attention, then?

Make Like Steve Jobs – Take A Walk

I’ve always wondered why Jobs always took his friends, family, and even business associates on walks to discuss about matters. Isn’t it rather distracting to be around so many people, and so many things happening all around?

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Turns out – not really. Nilofer Merchant, a visionary in her own right, argues convincingly that having your meeting on-the-go drastically improves its effectiveness. It makes it necessary for background information to be sent in advance, saving a good 10-20 opening minutes of the usual presentation. It forces meetings to be short and to-the-point. The absence of devices, such as laptops and tablets for recording purposes, forces the parties involved to really be engaged in the conversation and train of thought at hand.

Having your meeting on-the-go drastically improves its effectiveness. (tweet this)

Neda Talebian Funk and Caroline Limpert, cofounders of FITiST, take it one step (or many, many steps) further by suggesting that business meetings be taken out on the run. That’s right – they are suggesting that jogging while talking causes your endorphins to go up, which encourages creative thinking and candid discussions. That’s certainly a fresh perspective, and definitely worth a try.

Feed Your Stomach and Mind – At The Same Time

Here’s an idea that would appeal to food-loving Singaporeans, which pretty much means all Singaporeans. Jennifer Ackerman, in her book Sex Sleep Eat Dream, argues that our bodies tend to be driven by the hidden ups and downs of our various circadian rhythms, which is our natural body clock. For effective meetings: Time them such that they coincide with the biological “ups” of our bodies.

For effective meetings: Time them such that they coincide with the biological “ups” of our bodies. (tweet this)

For example, our brains are at their sharpest in the mornings due to the high levels of stress hormone cortisol in our bodies, which helps focus on complex tasks. Hence, mornings are the best time to tackle the most complex tasks on our agenda. Since this is the case, why not arrange for an early morning breakfast meeting with your team, or important clients? Venues such as L’etoile Cafe and Highlander Coffee Bar would certainly agree with me, and would be glad to organize a nice breakfast meeting for your team.

Our brains are at their sharpest in the mornings: Arrange for an early morning breakfast meeting with your team or clients to take advantage of this. (tweet this)

The bottom-line is this: Think outside the box when meeting up with Generation Y. Forget about hour-long meetings held around a conference table, facing a projector screen (with PowerPoint slides – Heaven forbid).

Do these instead: Be creative with meeting venues – cafes, restaurants, and even rooftop bars are much more likely locations for creative juices to start flowing. Experiment with the timing of meetings – breakfast meetings with investors, or talking strategy over brunch, might be the most agreeable to our natural body clocks.  Forget about meetings in comfy chairs – make an appointment with the wind and jogging track as well. Make an effort to connect effectively with your millennials, and they will respond enthusiastically.

Have you had any success in holding your meetings with any of the above-mentioned methods, or do you think that they won’t work? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @wearespaces!


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Editor-in-Chief of We Are Spaces. To put it simply, he lives for the written (or typed) word. Find him on Google.


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