For many of us, meetings are not the favourite part of our day. And yet, believe it or not, they make up 39 % of our average work time. On top of that, according to a survey 47% of employees find meetings to be the biggest time-waste and distraction at work, they’re simply a necessary evil for any effective organization.
The good news is, there are ways to make meetings less painful for everyone, and more importantly, more meaningful and efficient. Keep reading to find tips onhow to plan meetings that are actually worth your time:
1) Rethink your attendance list
We've all been in meetings where we asked ourselves "why...WHY am I here?". Attendees should only be those directly concerned with the meeting’s objectives.Yes, there are probably plenty of people who should know what was discussed, but unless they’re decision-makers, they don’t really need to attend. Consider forwarding them the meeting minutes afterwards in place of having them attend, or give them a brief call to provide them with a more time-conducive recap.
2) Preparation is everything, exchange as much information as possible in advance
Microsoft conducted a survey to get a sense of what’s holding people back from having successful meetings, and the responses were telling: 42% pointed to procrastination as the biggest obstacle to productive meetings, 39% blamed lack of effective communication with team members, and 34% found ineffective meetings to be the issue. All of these issues can be easily resolved with just one thing: preparation. Prior to your scheduled meeting, make sure everyone is familiar with the objectives. Send out previous meetings’ minutes, along with any reference material to make sure you don’t have to spend precious time repeating old discussions.
3) Start on time, even when others don’t
As the old and ever-relevant adage goes, time is money. Don’t wait for latecomers and stick to your timeline. Waiting for people who may or may not even attend the meeting not only wastes time, it gets your meeting started on the wrong foot, welcoming boredom and distraction from attendees who may have already started to chit-chat, fiddle with their devices, or daydream. If you start on time, you’re more likely to end it on time.
4) Schedule shorter meetings
This might be the easiest way to ensure meetings are more enthusiastic than draining. Shorter meetings force attendees as well as the meeting organizer to remain on topic and to move swiftly from objective to objective.
5) Always end meetings with a plan of action
Meetings are useless if all the talk doesn’t translate into action. Every meeting should end with a clear plan of action that answers the “so, what do we do next?” question. Next objective to be achieved should be ready before the next meeting.
No one looks at their calendar and jumps for joy when they see a day chock-full of back-to-back meetings. They’re not always exciting (almost never), but you can still get a lot out of them with a few of these tips.