We all know how much time meetings can waste. Some research suggests that we waste more than 35% to 50% of our time at meetings. While some feel meetings are a waste of time, you can have effective ones. You just need to use the right strategies to actually make meetings work.
Reduce attendance to the bare minimum
If you’ve ever tried to go anywhere with a group of people then you know, the more people there are the slower you move. People wander off, need to go to the bathroom, get distracted, or simply disagree on stuff. This isn’t just true for going to places in the world. It’s also true for going places in the mind.
For that reason, reduce your headcount. Anybody whose opinion does not really matter or who will probably not directly contribute to the meeting should be sent the meeting’s minutes instead. This will allow the meeting to go more quickly. What’s more, those people who won’t be at the meeting will have that time available to focus on their work instead.
And that’s good for everybody.
If you’re not exactly sure who should and shouldn’t come, ask them. Just make it absolutely clear that if they aren’t sure they can contribute they should disinvite themselves as, otherwise, people will feel peer pressured to attend.
Discuss what will be discussed
By sending out a plan for the meeting beforehand and allowing the different participants to make amendments and suggestions, you can make sure that the things that actually need to be discussed are on the schedule. In that way, you’re far less likely to spend time on things that aren’t relevant.
The best strategy is to create some kind of document that is easily editable by all sides. This can be done through linked note to an appointment in Daylite or by using a shared Google Doc. In this way, everybody can make suggestions about what should and shouldn’t be in the meeting. What’s more, this will allow everybody to prepare for what is going to be discussed.
The best part? Sometimes you’ll find that things are actually resolved before the meeting takes place. In this way, you can significantly shorten the meeting or even cancel it all together.
Of course, this will only work if you make it clear beforehand that if it’s not in the minutes, it will not be discussed. Initially, this might bother people, but once they get used to the idea then they will come to appreciate it.
So won’t this move the time-wasting to outside the meeting? To an extent. However, we can all check out these kinds of documents in our own time. That’s not possible with a meeting. What’s more, people can get in touch individually and discuss certain aspects before the meeting individually – this will mean other people will not have to sit around and twiddle their thumbs while a few people discuss something that’s relevant only to them.
Do note, the only way this will be effective is if the documents drawn up are clear, concise and well worded. Otherwise, they will devolve into long sprawling affairs that won’t help anybody.
Have a clear time limit
Not just to the meeting as a whole but to the different items on the agenda. Make sure participants know how long each segment is made to be and how much time has already been spent on this point. If the item is not getting resolved, then the parties responsible should move the resolution to outside the meeting to where they can deal with the issues without taking up everybody else’s time.
If a meeting looks like it’s going to last a while, make sure you have regular breaks. The human brain gets filled up sooner rather than later and once the brain is full, new information will not get absorbed.
The upper limit to a meeting should be 1 ½ hours. After that whatever more is said goes straight through – which means that the speaker will have to repeat themselves at some later date (and what’s the point in that?).
Here I’m not just talking about the minutes. That goes without saying. I’m also talking about video recording any presentations that might be given during the meeting. This can be beneficial for several reasons. The first one is to refresh the memory of whoever attended the meeting. A second advantage is that even those people who didn’t attend the meeting can then watch it and be up to date on some new development.
You can even make presentations available for the meeting. In this way, people can view them beforehand, digest the information and then ask the important questions that really matter rather than only the first ones that pop into their minds.
In this way, you can much more quickly move onto the gist of things.
Meetings can be a curse if not executed effectively. Some people loath meetings but they’re there to stay for the simple reason that most of us need to meet people face to face in order to make the important decisions. That’s something that’s a part of how we make our choices.
That said, not all the meetings have to be ineffective. The trick is to take whatever does not actually have to be in the meeting and move it outside. Nowadays, that’s a lot of things. After all, technology allows us to ‘meet’ in many ways without being in the same room. This means that we can move a lot of the things that formerly had to be done when we were all together, separately. That’s hugely advantageous as it means only the people for who that bit is relevant actually need to be there so that the rest can get on with more important things.
About the author:
Angela Baker is a self-driven specialist who is currently working as a freelance writer and trying to improve herself in the blogging career. She is always seeking to discover new ways for personal and professional growth and is convinced that it’s always important to broaden horizons. That`s why Angela develops and improves her skills throughout the writing process to help and inspire people.