Meeting focus: Navigating interruptions

Some meetings will run more smoothly than others for one reason or another. Sadly, interruptions and distractions can ruin the flow, wasting time and hindering productivity.

It’s important to manage these situations to keep focused on the business in hand and ensure more efficient use of attendees’ time – ultimately achieving a better outcome.

Research reveals the average employee wastes 31 hours a month in meetings that are unproductive. Distractions can also lead to 50% more mistakes being made.

Navigating interruptions
© Ikonoklast Fotografie /

A meeting peppered with interruptions can lead to failing to fully discuss a topic, or writing incomplete notes that are hard to understand after the event. It can also mean running out of time before the agenda items have been completed, leaving everyone feeling dissatisfied and stressed.

A staggering 98% of employees say their gatherings are interrupted three to four times on average. This has left 71% of them believing their time has been mismanaged.

Three-quarters of staff say they have been more productive after attending specific training sessions on how to deal with interruptions that throw them off their stride.

Common distractions in the workplace

When it comes to meetings, the most common workplace distractions include people arriving late, followed by personal interruptions such as mobile phones going off, or attendees having side conversations.

Issues with technology, general noise and interruptions from outside also affect the smooth running of the meeting. This leads to reduced engagement and delegates becoming disinterested in the content, leading to lower participation and collaboration.

Repeated interruptions cause frustration, potentially causing discord among attendees.

As a manager or team leader, prepare for every type of distraction and be ready to address them in a proactive way to ensure the event runs smoothly. This ensures a better outcome and more efficient use of the attendees’ time.

You can adopt different strategies during meetings, as not all interruptions will require the same approach.

Strategies to address meeting interruptions

Discourage side conversations by establishing clear meeting expectations and guidelines from the outset. Remind delegates to hold comments and questions until designated times. If side conversations still occur, offer a gentle reminder to the participants to remain on topic.

To avoid technology problems, test all the equipment and software beforehand to look for potential technical difficulties. If you choose meeting room hire away from your regular workplace, this can go a long way towards combating tech issues, as the equipment will have been tested in advance.

In addition, designate a technically knowledgeable team member to help with any problems that might occur during the event.

Late arrivals irritate just about everyone: discourage this from happening in future by starting the meeting promptly and never recapping the missed topics when a delegate rushes in late. Provide everyone with the minutes, or a recording, after the meeting to make sure everyone’s on the same page, but also remind employees how important it is to arrive on time.

These simple strategies can minimise the common interruptions and create a more productive environment.

Managing external distractions

When it comes to external distractions, such as high traffic volume outside and other noise, you can also benefit from hiring professional business meeting rooms. For example, if your business is based in the capital, it can be useful to look into meeting room hire in London.

A venue away from high traffic volumes, or one with soundproofing measures and glazing to keep the noise out, can benefit your event massively.

It isn’t hard to find a suitable meeting room London-wide, where distractions will be minimal. It can also add weight to the event, emphasising its importance, when it’s held away from the office. This can encourage attendees to arrive promptly. If meeting in the workplace, it’s too easy to sit at your desk that extra few minutes!

If you’re driving or walking to a specific venue away from the office, there can be a greater incentive to set off early.

Remind attendees at the start it’s vital to remain focused, without allowing any outside distractions to interfere with the business in hand. Ask them to put their mobile phones on silent and actively discourage multitasking, such as answering emails from a mobile device during the meeting.

By taking proactive steps to manage meeting distractions, you can create a more focused and productive environment from the start.

Learning how to make meetings more productive will allow your team to make the most of their time together.

Share this post


Blog Latest