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Klaxoon Survey: 22 Percent of Americans Feel Most Meetings Are a Waste of Time

July 19, 2017
New data from innovative workspace tools company Klaxoon reveals how different Americans feel about – and behave in – meetings and why so many meetings fail.

NEW YORK – July 27, 2017 – Today, Klaxoon, an innovative company dedicated to collaborative meeting tools, released the results of its “America in Meetings” study. The survey of over 2,000 American adults age 18+ was conducted with Propeller Insights June 30-July 5, 2017.

The survey looked at what gets people engaged in meetings, how they spend their time when they’re “zoning out,” and some differences between men and women, introverts and extroverts, Democrats and Republicans, and Millennials – at work and in meetings.

Americans: Talented Multi-taskers

About half of Americans (49 percent) say they are being asked to participate in more meetings now than they were a year ago, and 28 percent say meetings have gotten longer. What’s more, as workforce models are moving from fixed to fluid, Americans are having ever more virtual meetings.

When asked what the biggest problems are with virtual meetings and conference calls, 38 percent of Americans say they zone out when they’re not speaking, 35 percent complain that most meetings last too long, and 31 percent say there isn’t enough participation from everyone.

Consequently, 38 percent of employees admit to daydreaming during meetings and conference calls.

What else do Americans do during virtual meetings and conference calls?

  • 30 percent work on other projects
  • 24 percent surf the web
  • 21 percent check social media
  • 18 percent think about vacation
  • 15 percent read the news
  • 12 percent shop online

Despite this, 41 percent of Americans say they usually leave meetings feeling like good decisions were made, and 38 percent usually feel their contributions were valuable.

Why Meetings Fail – or Succeed

However, 22 percent say most meetings they attend are a waste of time – perhaps because the ratio of speaking to listening is dramatically skewed: only 7 percent of Americans put the priority on finding consensus in meetings, while two-thirds (66 percent) say they are there to share information.

When asked why meetings generally fail, the answers revolved around organization, collaboration and participation:

  • Meeting goals were not established – 48 percent
  • Not everyone participated or felt their participation was needed – 30 percent
  • It was difficult to tell whether or not people were participating – 21 percent

The same themes emerged when people were asked why meetings succeed:

  • The topic was relevant – 54 percent
  • Worked off of an agenda – 48 percent
  • Decisive action was taken – 48 percent
  • Everyone had a turn to speak – 40 percent
  • Engaging facilitator – 37 percent

Snacks play a surprisingly small role in the success of a meeting – only 12 percent of Americans feel that being fed contributes to the success of a meeting.

The results of this survey underscore that people collaborate best when they are really engaged and interacting. When they aren’t, their minds wander and meetings fail, said Matthieu Beucher, CEO of Klaxoon. This is why we founded Klaxoon – to help teams improve their collaborations and ignite the creative potential that comes from good human connection and discussion.

What else makes meetings successful? Sixty-four percent of employees feel the most productive meetings happen before 11 a.m., and 38 percent say that if their smartphone was needed to participate in a conference call, they would pay closer attention to the meeting, with another 27 percent saying they would be less distracted.

Mars and Venus in the Virtual Meeting

While more than two-thirds of Americans (71 percent) say they more often lead the conversation during a meeting than follow it, this figure is higher among men (80 percent) than women (65 percent).

Men also pay better attention during meetings if they find the facilitator attractive (48 percent) than do women (33 percent).

However, when it comes to needing help in the workplace, 62 percent of men say help from coworkers is integral to success, while only 54 percent of women agree.

Extroverts More Willing to Weigh In

Unsurprisingly, extroverts tend to take up more space in meetings than introverts do: extroverts are 25 percent more likely to be asked to participate in meetings than introverts and are less likely to daydream during conference calls (33 percent) than are introverts (43 percent).

Meanwhile, introverts are 25 percent less likely to speak up in a meeting without being called upon.

Your Boss Is Joining from the Beach

Being an executive has its perks: while 82 percent of entry-level, associates and specialist employees have to take all their meetings in person, only 18 percent of executives, VPs and C-level employees do.

CEOs also do more decision-making in meetings than everyone else: 34 percent of their meetings are spent making decisions, and another 57 percent is spent sharing information.

It turns out looks also matter in the boardroom: 52 percent of managers and 40 percent of CEOs say they are more engaged during meetings if they are attracted to the meeting facilitator.

Donkeys and Elephants in the Workplace

While American Democrats and Republicans have perhaps never been so divided over politics, they are not so different in the workplace.

An almost equal number of Republicans (57 percent) and Democrats (60 percent) feel they need to collaborate with colleagues to be successful in the workplace.

Likewise, both Republicans (37 percent) and Democrats (36 percent) say they spend conference calls focused on solving the problem at hand and actively speak up without being called upon (71 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of Democrats).

However, leaving a meeting, Republicans are slightly more likely (44 percent) than Democrats (40 percent) to feel like good decisions were made, while Democrats are slightly more likely (40 percent) than Republicans (37 percent) to feel like their contributions were valuable.

Millennials Play Well with Others

Collaboration is becoming more important in the workplace – and Millennials are leading the charge.

While 57 percent of Americans say they need their colleagues’ help to succeed at their job, this figure is even higher among Millennials (25 to 35-year-olds), 64 percent of whom say this.

And while 61 percent of Americans say collaboration has increased over the past year, more Millennials report this increase (73 percent) than Americans of other generations.

Millennials (22 percent) were also the age group who said fun mattered most to the success of a meeting.

About Klaxoon

Klaxoon’s mission is to spice up meetings by mobilizing collective intelligence and changing the way we share information. The company offers innovative tools to make meetings and workplace collaboration more productive. Founded in 2014 in Rennes, France, by Matthieu Beucher, Klaxoon is already helping thousands of teams at companies like Schneider, Disneyland, L’Oréal, Accenture, Nestlé, Verizon and Marriott across 114 different countries. Klaxoon has been granted several prestigious international prizes, including the CES Innovation Award 2016 and 2017, Grand Prix for the best learning tool 2016, most innovative business solution at IT’Night 2016 Paris, and the Excellence Prize from Brandon Hall Group in Miami.