We have all been there, struggling to stay awake during a marathon three-hour meeting, only to leave and wonder, “what was the point?” The statistics on unproductive meetings in the workplace are staggering, both the amount of time spent and the amount of money paid on salaries for hours spent in unnecessary meetings. So, what can managers do to limit unnecessary meetings and make what is necessary productive?
Ever feel like your meeting looks like this?
Here are some tips for making meetings more bearable:
1. Ask yourself, is it essential? If your meeting can be replaced by an email or memo, don’t hold it. Save a conference call or in-person gathering for when nothing else will do.
2. Be specific with the objective. Sending out a basic agenda in advance of a meeting with any relevant documents and specifics on what will be discussed is sure to keep things on track!
3. Choose a productive time of day. Choose to meet at a time when people are less likely to be distracted. Don’t call a meeting at the end of the day or early in the morning. The best times? Between 9-11 am or 2-4 pm.
4. Invite the right people and ensure they understand why they are there.
5. Keep things short. Try to keep meetings under an hour or preferably under 30 min. People have short attention spans.
6. Last, but not least – stick to the agenda! Nothing is more counter-productive than a meeting that is derailed and ends up lasting longer because the leader is allowing people to talk about other topics than on the agenda.
With meetings, the key to making them count is to be deliberate. Be deliberate with the when, where, why and who. Without these, meetings can be disruptive, too long and often feel like a waste of time. But when meetings are done right, they can produce new ideas, solve problems and move projects forward.