A common complaint in Corporate America is “I spend way too much time in meetings.” If you can relate to this, read on.
It is estimated that employees spend 35-60% of their work days in meetings. According to Meetings in America: A study of trends, costs and attitudes toward business travel, teleconferencing, and their impact on productivity, most professionals who meet on a regular basis admit to daydreaming (91%), missing meetings (96%) or missing parts of meetings (95%). A large percentage (73%) says they have brought other work to meetings and 39% say they have dozed during meetings.
If you frequently lead meetings, consider these guidelines for improving your meeting’s quality as well as keeping others’ time in mind:
1. Define the objective of your meeting. If it involves an outcome based on others’ input, then invite only those who will contribute to that objective.
2. Always start your meetings on time. People will feel their time has been respected if you’re known for punctuality. If someone arrives late to the meeting, don’t waste time recapping what’s been discussed already. They can get brought up to speed on their own time.
3. Use an agenda (and time keeper) to keep things flowing. Guide conversations in the direction of your meeting’s objective. This will contribute to others’ staying focused as well as helping them to feel that attending this meeting was a good use of their time.
4. Ban partial participation by asking others to refrain from texting, checking email or having sideline conversations.
5. Make sure each conversation has a clear and definitive decision or next action; including individual(s) delegated responsibility for particular next steps.
6. Consider a Speed Meeting. This is a drastic change from the norm of comfy chairs around a conference room table. This meeting takes place in a room/area with no chairs. That’s right. Standing room only. High-top tables are helpful. It’s amazing how quickly decisions can get made and ideas shared when there’s nowhere to sit.
7. End your meetings early or on time, giving a recap of the objectives met. Be sure to thank your participants for their time.