Peacefully sitting at your workstation and you suddenly get a notification for another meeting. That’s right! Another long, boring, unproductive that makes you wish for a magical teleport machine to help you deport from there.
Often times, during a meeting, you’re just questioning yourself as to why you’re even there. Don’t get us wrong! Meetings are a great way to take follow-ups from your team members and a valuable source of tracking progress, but did you know that professionals lose around 31 hours per month owing to unproductive meetings?
Another astounding statistic shows that a whopping 91% of attendees daydream during meetings.
So, apparently, we’re doing something wrong, right?
It doesn’t always have to be this way. Holding productive meetings is no curious case which cannot be solved. In this blog, we’ve compiled some of the tips for you to escape the culture of unproductive meetings and run more fruitful, productive meetings where goals are achieved in lesser time.
Let’s have a look at them:
1. Define a clear purpose
You may think the purpose of a meeting is obvious, but sometimes it’s not. It’s essential to understand the true intention of a planned meeting and to communicate it among the attendees. Defining a clear-cut purpose before the initiation of a meeting will help in understanding the objectives of a meeting and what to expect at the end of it.
This particular tip is really helpful for the facilitator, as when he begins the meeting by stating the ‘intent’ of a meeting, presumably the context of a meeting is understood by the attendees and the whole idea of a particular meeting is transparent.
The purpose of a meeting could be one of the following:
- To take follow-up of the assigned tasks
- To engage team members in solving a problem
- To take a major decision, or
- Simply to share information
With a purpose in mind, your team is highly likely to not go off the track and keep a sharp focus on the real aim of a meeting.
2. Predefine meeting agenda
Distracted team members, unprepared participants, and going off the topic during meetings- all these problems stem from a poorly designed meeting agenda. Another useful tip to run productive meetings is to always decide an overall agenda of a meeting greatly facilitates the team members in understanding what the meeting is all about.
An effectively designed meeting agenda clearly states what needs to be done and what to expect during and after the meeting. It also aids the participants in preparing for the meeting, information exchange requirements, and what exactly are the means to achieve the goals.
Let’s take an example of why designing clear agendas is important. Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook suggests leaving a meeting the minute all the agenda points are checked off, even if it’s earlier than the scheduled end time. This shows the significance of designing crystal clear agenda points and sticking to them throughout the meeting.
3. Set strict time limits
Time is a valuable commodity for any business, so if you fail to restrict time limits for your meetings, chances are you’re wasting a lot of it.
Corporations are coming up with different ways to fight the plague of useless meetings. In an effort to combat the time being spent on individual meetings, the team at Percolate suggests that ideally, meetings should be 15 minutes by default, adjusting the time as needed.
So how can you decide the optimum timeframe of a meeting?
Make sure that meetings begin and end on time. Period. With that being said, there should be ample time designated for debate too, so you can get multiple perspectives on the matter from the attendees. Attendees should not feel rushed at the end of a meeting and therefore, the time allocated for a particular meeting should be decided carefully.
Here, an important phenomenon to pay attention towards is the direct relationship of the time limit of a meeting with the associated cost. The most expensive overhead costs within an organization are incurred due to meetings.
Fortunately, there are now tools such as this Meeting Cost Calculator, that instantly help you with calculating how much your meetings are costing you on yearly basis. Tools like these provide quick means to judge the amount of wastage linked with the time you’re spending on meetings.
4. Identify attendees
Another extremely useful tip for holding productive meetings it to exactly identify the attendees of a meeting, along with the roles you expect them to play at meetings. This way each individual has an idea of what to contribute during the meeting. One advantage of this is that it will mitigate the summoning of unnecessary team members, reducing the chaos.
There’s a flip side of the story too.
Limit the attendees of a meeting! The lesser the people, the easier it is to get things done faster. Companies like Google are known for keeping the number of attendees in a meeting to a maximum of 10 team members.
By identifying and limiting the number of attendees, you ensure that the structure of your meeting stays put, without any major changes, and the desired outcome is achieved within the stipulated timeframe.
If you still don’t understand how this works, consider Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ two pizzas rule for meetings. If two pizzas are not enough to feed the attendees of a meeting, Bezos won’t call a meeting, or even go to one, because according to him, gathering more people to a meeting just kills the creativity.
Although Bezos’ rule is more metaphoric than literal, you can still take him seriously and take two pizzas to work, after all, there’s nothing a pizza can’t solve.
5. Follow-up on tasks
The real work begins after the meeting is over. To see if everyone is on track and tasks are being carried out according to the plan, taking a follow up is a must.
Here, a need for a follow-up meeting might arise owing to the feedback of team members. These follow-up meetings are an excellent way for employees to communicate any obstacles that might be coming in way of task completion.
This practice of following up on tasks gives the ability to keep track of all the on-going tasks, and also comprehend how much work remains on outstanding tasks.
That’s about it! Now you know how you can conduct productive meetings to build a culture where employees don’t dread them and think of them as a valuable source of information exchange.
So, don’t just go around conducting meaningless meetings in the name of monitoring progress. Define clear objectives and pave ways for successful, productive meetings.