If you’ve ever struggled to stay awake for a three-hour meeting, or left wondering what the point of said gathering was, then you likely understand how meetings can overwhelm your schedule and actually squash productivity for your team.
Get this – one study found that managers spend between 35% and 50% of their time in meetings, yet polled execs stated about 67% of meetings are unproductive.
Why are so many meetings so useless? I’ve noticed a few common problems, with the core three being: multitasking, a lack of planning and a lack of follow through.
Below is a framework that will help you to save time, while having more productive and enjoyable meetings.
Before scheduling any meeting, there are two questions you should ask: Is it necessary and what key players need to attend? Would an email or Slack update suffice? Secondly, keep the meetings as small as possible by determining exactly who needs to be in the room and who can skip. Tech giant Google, the second most valuable company in the world, has a 10-person rule for meetings. Can you adopt a similar policy?
Not surprisingly, 63% of meetings are conducted without a pre-planned agenda. Going to a meeting without preparing is a waste of everyone’s time. If you’re the meeting host, be sure to prepare an agenda that gives the meeting a clear set of goals. This doesn’t need to be overly detailed, but should make sure those joining the meeting know exactly what topics will be covered and the end goal. Send this out ahead of time so attendees can prep for a thoughtful, engaged and speedy meeting.
This might seem crazy, but try setting internal meetings for no more than 15 minutes. Agree on a hard stop at the beginning of the meeting, set a timer and stick to it. In order to make shorter meetings work, you’ll need to follow the tips outlined above and have everyone on board. This also means no multi-tasking (checking emails or texts) for the full 15-minutes. Additionally, be sure to do any necessary information gathering or sharing ahead of the meeting. This means that the time spent actually meeting can be used strictly on decision making and determining next steps, rather than spending precious time bringing people up to speed.
Don’t let your meetings drag on. When that timer goes off, the meeting ends. Period. As the meeting host, be sure the last 2-3 minutes are reserved for finalizing important decisions, determining necessary tasks and assigning them. Send this list of to-dos and owners to the full team to make sure each party is accountable.
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