5 Ways to Make Meetings Work for You

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Emily Read

Senior Director

You know the feeling – that Outlook calendar reminder pops up on your screen, letting you know you’ve got 15 minutes of precious time before a meeting, and you suddenly realize you aren’t sure what the meeting is for or what you’ll contribute.

Meetings are a way of life for most, but consider these scary stats:

  • We spend an average of 62 hours each month in meetings
  • Executives consider 2/3 of meetings to be failures
  • $37 billion per year is wasted annually because of unnecessary meetings

But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some effective meeting tips to make your meetings more productive:

  1. Define your goal(s) with a meeting agenda. The key here is to be specific and realistic. You probably won’t be able to accomplish more than two or three objectives during a meeting that is one hour or less. And if you’ve got more to accomplish than that, you may need a series of meetings to make it happen.
  2. Invite the right people. And here’s a hint: it’s fewer than you think. Productivity decreases as the number of meeting attendees increase.
  3. Pay attention to when and how long you’re scheduling the meeting. Time of day matters, and it may depend on what you’re hoping to get accomplished. Best time of day for a meeting varies based on industry, but consider:
    1. Very early meetings make it difficult for team members to arrive on time due to traffic and school drop off, and don’t allow for much prep time in advance.
    2. Lunchtime meetings require multitasking, and we’re just not very good at that.
    3. Late afternoon meetings pretty much ensure you’re not getting 100 percent from everyone in the room, because they’re tapped out for the day and watching the clock to leave. Also, if you find yourself scheduling a meeting for longer than an hour, go back to your goals and re-consider. Studies have shown that attention wanes after 20 minutes, and you might have better luck scheduling a few shorter meetings to accomplish one goal at a time.
  4. Stay on task during the meeting. No multitasking! You might even go so far as to ban laptops and phones from your meetings to maximize productivity.And, keep idle chitchat in check. Meetings shouldn’t be social hour.
  5. Recap immediately after the meeting. Jot down action items and team members tasked with each as soon as possible after the meeting, then send out a recap email. This ensures you’re processing what needs to be done while it’s fresh in your brain, and enables your team to get started on their part of the project right away.

Running an effective meeting is an easy step to helping your organization be more productive this year. As you’re preparing for the remainder of the year, you may be thinking about the bigger picture – your organizations strategic plan. We’d be happy to help out! Contact us to learn more about how we can assist you in achieving your goals.