5 Tips To Ensure Meetings Are Worthwhile

At least 30 percent of the time spent in meetings is wasted, according to 2,000 managers surveyed by Industry Week. A similar survey of executives by 3M Meeting Network put that number at up to 50 percent. Meetings have become a source of distress for so many companies. They’re commonly recognized as time sucks, and people acknowledge that meetings are usually inefficient.

Meetings aren’t inherently problematic. They’ve gotten a bad reputation because most people don’t think about the purpose of the meeting and what value they hope to gain. Managers often hold meetings just to get people together, rather than to make decisions. But there are better ways for innovative, productive companies to operate.

If bringing people together is the goal, create informal opportunities for people to connect. Meetings tend to be formal and should be held only when there’s a need to make key decisions or consolidate critical thought processes.

Any time you feel the urge to hold a meeting to connect with your team, go talk to them in their workspaces instead. Work alongside them, or take your team to lunch. Don’t force them to sit through a meeting when you could achieve your objective in more effective — and fun — ways.

When there truly is a need to call a meeting, use these guidelines to ensure the meeting is productive and worthwhile:

1. Let your employees know what the meeting is about ahead of time.

A meeting should not be the first time you introduce a concept or reveal data that’s vital to the decision being made. It’s difficult to share new information at the start of a meeting and expect people to process it and come to a joint conclusion within the meetings time limit of 30 or 60 minutes.

Brief everyone on the relevant information before you meet (maybe in smaller group forums or via email) so they can collect their thoughts before sitting down to the discussion. Then, keep the meeting focused on reaching decisions.

2. Only invite the most relevant employees to a meeting.

Know the people you’re addressing, including who can offer valuable input as well as influence in that area. Bringing in people who don’t need to be at the meeting, there’s a risk of being sidelined by irrelevant commentary about issues you cannot control. Letting the participant list become too broad does everyone a disservice. Once you’ve gathered your key people, appoint an unbiased facilitator who will keep everyone on task.

3. Don’t waste your or your staff’s time.

Identify which agenda items are top priorities. What are the decisions that must be covered in order to make progress? Establishing goals for the meeting in advance ensures you make the best use of everyone’s time.

4. Follow the meeting’s natural course.

Today’s business environment has us thinking all decisions must be made in 30-minute increments. If the conversation moves slower than anticipated, give the facilitator power to postpone the discussion. If a meeting ends sooner than expected, all the better.

5. Be a role model for the behaviour you want to encourage.

Be consistent in your criteria for holding meetings, stick to the agenda, and come prepared. Meetings should be powerful: Get to the point, and then get back to work.

Productive meetings spring from productive cultures. If you encourage open discussion and collaboration, you’ll need fewer formal meetings because conversations are happening all the time. When you do call a meeting, you can draw on those dialogues and shared data to make informed smart decisions.

Written by Bradford Blevins.

Originally posted on talentculture.com

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