Meetings are generally productivity killers. Wondering how you can make the best of them without wasting time? You’re in the right place. Check out this article for useful pointers on how to make your daily or weekly meetings more productive.
According to a study, the average office worker spends around 16 hours in meetings each week. That’s a lot, especially when you consider the amount of time you spend getting ready for them. They can easily kill your productivity and keep you from working towards accomplishing your goals for the day.
If you’re a manager, you have to learn how to make the most of your staff meetings. Being more efficient in the planning phase goes a long way towards making the meeting more productive for everyone involved. Here are a few tips that will help.
Schedule Them Appropriately
Avoid scheduling the meeting late in the afternoon, as people will be tired and probably unreceptive to new information. Furthermore, some employees may tend to procrastinate their other tasks, thinking that they should use the time before to prepare for the get-together. According to a study posted on INC.com, the best time for a meeting is 3 P.M. on a Tuesday.
On the same note, try setting very specific times and durations for meetings, for instance from 9:13 to 10:12. The specificity of these times has a higher chance of making people show up on time and respect the agenda.
Set an Agenda
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. You have probably heard this saying before, but it’s extremely accurate. When you don’t set a clear agenda for the meeting, things can easily go off course. You could end up discussing the next office party for the first 15 minutes until you finally realize how much time you’ve already wasted.
Think about why you’re holding this meeting and write down the main points you want to discuss. Make sure your team is familiar with these points in advance. You can e-mail them the agenda the day before, to give people enough time to prepare.
Assign Someone to Take Notes
We’re not advising you to document every word uttered during the meeting. However, having someone who is familiar with the meeting’s agenda take notes can be useful. This way, you will have an official record of what was discussed and agreed on.
Furthermore, these notes will be extremely useful for people who were unable to attend, but still need to be kept in the loop. You will also avoid the dreaded situation of multiple people recalling one event in very different ways, commonly known as the Rashomon effect.
Penalties for Tardiness
If you know that certain meeting participants always run late, instate a penalty for tardiness. Waiting around until everyone is there is frustrating and unproductive. This might make attendees think twice before arriving late. The penalty doesn’t have to be anything major. For instance, they can be asked to put $5 in an “office pizza” fund. Or they can be required to share a personal anecdote or joke before you proceed. The upside? This practice allows you to encourage punctuality in a harmless and fun way.
If you need to have a meeting with a remote team, hold it online. Travel time is dead time, so cut it out of your schedule. After all, a Skype conference can be just as fulfilling as a face-to-face meeting, and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own office. Nonetheless, don’t be fooled – virtual meetings can also drag on, so keep a close eye on the agenda and make sure everyone is on point.
Break The Ice
When you have to organize a meeting between colleagues that aren’t very familiar with each other, it’s smart to take a few minutes at the beginning to break the ice. TestUp has some pretty fun exercise recommendations including guessing games, office outings and breaking the attendees into groups according to things they have in common. You can find out more ideas on their blog, at www.testup.com. This time won’t feel wasted, as meeting participants will be more comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas.
There’s nothing worse than sitting through a twenty-minute presentation – your staff will likely get bored and lose focus. Instead, e-mail them the presentation beforehand to make sure everyone gets to analyze it at their own pace. Then, when it’s time for the meeting, only bring up the essentials and let everyone else share their input.
Give Everyone a Last Word
Ending every meeting with a “closing round” is a smart move. It gives people a chance to get something off their chest and it creates more mindfulness about the topics that were discussed. Every participant gets to have a last word, expressing their opinion about what just happened; this will help you discover if everyone is on the same page and if there are any issues you need to follow up on.
After the meeting is over, ask attendees if they found it valuable and what you can do to improve future meetings. Send them an e-mail, as people are more likely to give negative feedback or constructive criticism in writing than they are face-to-face. You could gather some valuable information to make your future meetings ever more effective.
Pointless meetings should be cut out of your work schedule. Don’t allow the meeting to drag on, eliminate distractions, and make sure everyone stays on point. Keep them short and useful. Your staff will be grateful.