Ah, unnecessary meetings, the bane of many an employee’s existence.
It’s interesting that the meetings you hold to improve productivity and efficiency could be the very thing that is slowing you down. While meetings are an excellent way to improve communication and help ensure everyone is on the same page, when they run too long, or are disorganized, they waste time. In fact, in 2019, it was estimated that pointless meetings cost U.S. companies $399 billion.
Here’s how to make meetings more efficient and purposeful.
Make sure every meeting has a purpose. Many business owners get into the habit of holding meetings simply because they are expected. A weekly meeting can be skipped if there aren’t pressing issues to discuss. One way to get the most production out of a meeting is making it a working meeting where your team completes tasks. Meetings should have a clearly defined purpose with specific goals in mind.
Prepare an Agenda
The best way to prepare your team for a meeting is by providing an agenda. Share the agenda with employees attending so they have time to consider anything relevant they might need to discuss. If people are expected to contribute specifics such as updates on a project, add their name and deliverables to the agenda. This way they are prepared and can ensure they make the best use of time.
Set Realistic Time Slots
Make sure you don’t overbook the time slot. When you get stuck in a rut of always booking an hour, employees become complacent and take advantage of being away from the work at hand. This can lead to socializing which undermines productivity. Book shorter slots so people feel compelled to stick to relevant topics.
Also, don’t go over the allotted time. Once employees start looking at their watches or the clock on the wally, you lose them, which defeats the purpose of the meeting.
Assign a Facilitator
When someone is recognized as running the meeting, it can help keep things on track. Choose someone who is diplomatic, able to manage conflict and who will stay on topic. This guides everyone to a common goal, avoids painful interactions, and stops you from getting stuck on sore points.
Instead of business owners always using a conference room, use more of a coaching approach to meetings. Standing around a project board, for example, can make the meeting feel more interactive, but also avoids people sinking into their seats to enjoy that free bagel and coffee. The social-distanced huddle can work very well for creative meetings and those short and sweet reviews that take less than 30 minutes.
Use a “Parking Lot” to Stay Focused
Just because meetings get off topic, doesn’t mean employees don’t sometimes bring up important points that shouldn’t be breezed over. Using a “parking lot” to park ideas (or taking it offline) that can be addressed at a later date makes sure these points aren’t forgotten. Not only does this keep the current meeting focused, but it also allows important ideas to be shared at a time where they get full attention.
Discourage Meeting Hogs
Meeting hogs are the people who never stick to meeting plans and rules. They can have good intentions but also be long-winded. Others may be constantly late, keep interrupting, try to move off agenda, hold meetings without purpose or basically interfere with meeting focus. Nip this in the bud and make it clear this behavior can’t be tolerated.
Addition by subtraction applies to meetings, as not everyone needs to participate in each meeting. Decide who the main players are, and choose the appropriate groups to maximize the value of the meeting.
Business owners can help their employees make the best use of time using these tips for far more efficient and productive meetings.