How to Not Waste Your Time in Meetings
Are meetings eating more and more of your work hours, yet failing to yield results? Meetings can be useful and effective when scheduled and structured properly, but they quickly become unnecessary if not kept under control. Here are some ways you can boost productivity during meetings to ensure the highest possible return on time investment.
Ask yourself, “Is a meeting the best way to handle this?”
Meetings are excellent tools for some situations, such as when the input of a group is needed or when a group needs to make a collective decision. But other tasks, such as drafting a document or simply notifying a group about an issue, are not suitable for a meeting. Determine when a group email or quick phone call is more effective for the type of communication you need to engage in.
Don't invite unnecessary staff members.
Too many unnecessary people in a meeting drive up costs and lowers productivity. Each employee in the meeting is losing valuable work time back at their desks, and more mouths at a meeting slows the pace. Decide ahead of time who needs to attend to voice their thoughts and ideas, and simply send everyone else a copy of the minutes or important decisions afterwards.
Make the purpose of the meeting clear in the meeting invite.
If there isn't an identifiable purpose for holding a meeting, there shouldn't be a meeting. Make sure the attendees know what the meeting is about when you send the invite. At the beginning of the session, state the purpose again, and stick to the issues that directly relate to that single purpose. If other issues arise during the meeting that need to be addressed, make note of those and schedule a time to handle those later.
Set a time limit for the meeting and stick to it.
Open-ended meetings are an invitation to waste time and stray off topic. By setting the meeting length, you force the group to address the meeting's main purpose and stay on track with discussion, debate and questions. For many topics, 30 minutes is enough time to state the purpose of the meeting, hear everyone's opinions, come to a decision and adjourn.
Wrap up with what was discussed, resolved and needs to be done next.
Each meeting should conclude with a recap of what was covered, what decisions were made and what further action needs to be taken on the matter. This helps everyone remember what was discussed and identify what they need to do next. If another meeting is needed after participants take action on the matter, schedule a follow-up meeting at the end of the meeting or soon after so everyone can get the meeting on their calendars.
Remember, when planned well and kept on track, meetings can again become a productive part of office life!
Interested in building your career? Explore our programs in the Graduate School of Business and Management.