The Key to Effective…and Shorter…Meetings

How many meetings do you have every day and every week where you feel like, at the end of it, you’re not sure what was accomplished? You’re not alone. Estimates show that we waste $37 billion a year on unproductive meetings. In fact, of the 55 million meetings that occur each week, 71% are considered unproductive. Whether you agree with these findings or not, most people would probably say that the meetings could be more effective—and shorter. Here’s the key to making that happen.

How to Make Your Meetings More Productive

Many of you may view meetings as a necessary evil. It’s impossible to avoid them completely; no matter your industry, having meetings is a way to pull teams together to collaborate and make decisions. But if you find these events simply a waste of time, ComputerWorld suggests you may be doing them wrong. They have a few tips that may help your next meeting be a little more productive, such as:

  • Before scheduling the meeting ask one basic question: Is this meeting necessary? Can it be handled on Slack, in an email, or some other non-meeting format?
  • Next, ask whether all of the attendees are really vital to the meeting. Who absolutely must attend the meeting? Do you need three representatives from one department or will one work just fine?
  • What about an agenda? Without an agenda, the meeting becomes an aimless exercise in…anything that crops up. Consider an agenda for every meeting with goals and a time limit for each topic. Then assign someone (that might be you) to run the meeting and keep everything on track. But before that happens, look at the agenda one last time and make sure an email won’t reach the same goals.
  • Send out the agenda, the goals for the meeting, and anything that should be reviewed before the meeting in advance.
  • Start the meeting on time instead of waiting for stragglers. This creates a corporate culture where things run on time and you either get on the ship or don’t. Set the standard for punctuality and stick to it.
  • Start the meeting by reviewing why you’re here, the agenda, and the goals for the meeting. Set roles and responsibilities. Who is facilitating? Is someone taking notes?
  • Stick to the agenda and time limits for each topic. Parking lot ideas or questions that pop up that don’t fit the agenda and topics that were unable to be resolved within the allotted time limit(meaning, put them aside to follow-up on at a later time) Also consider canceling meetings that fail to have clear agendas.
  • Assign action items to attendees and ensure everyone is clear on the deadlines for those to be completed.
  • Send a recap email after the meeting, including a breakdown of what action items each attendee is responsible for. Consider recording the meeting for those unable to attend. Include the link to the meeting recording in your recap email and you can also utilize the automated transcript feature for your video conference to share that document as well.
  • Conclude the meeting on time. If there are additional areas that need to be covered, you have the parking lot to go back to. Also, the meeting facilitator should follow up on tasks and assignments to be sure attendees are clear on the next steps.

You may also want to use a five-minute buffer at the top of every hour. That way, if people are in back-to-back meetings, having your 1 pm meeting start at 1:05 gives you a critical bio break.

If your company culture is too meeting-centric and wasteful, it’s sometimes an indicator that you need a change of scenery. That’s where Blackstone Talent Group can help. We match top IT talent with the best employers. Call on us to find out more.

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