We have all heard meetings referred to as a “necessary evil”. But you may be surprised how many employees admit that most meetings feel more evil than necessary. According to the Harvard Business Review, meeting length and frequency have both increased since the 1960’s, with Executives now spending an average of 23 hours a week in scheduled meetings. Keep in mind, this does not include the ad hoc gatherings that occur throughout the day.
So the question remains… is all this extra time we spend in meetings actually contributing to our productivity? There is hot debate on both sides of this topic. But what most professionals can agree with, is that too many meetings drain people’s energy. It’s about quality, not quantity.
When leading a meeting, it is important to learn to read the room! If co-workers seem tired, uninterested, or distracted, then it’s time to change things up.
Follow these simple tips to make your meetings more productive and enjoyable:
A concise, well organized agenda will help keep the group on topic. The agenda should be created and sent out before the meeting, preferably when the meeting is scheduled, so there are no surprises. You may even find, when typing out your agenda, that you don’t even need a meeting at all! Sometimes just a 5 minute phone call can suffice.
Don’t fill the time just because you blocked off your calendar. Once you accomplish your agenda items, release everyone so they can get back to work or allow them the remaining time to take a break before returning to their desk.
If you are an executive or department head, consider having someone else lead the meeting instead. Training your employees to run meetings without you can be an empowering move for them and a time saver for you!
You set the tone when you lead meetings. Start on time, stick to the agenda, and do not cover items that are “on track” or going according to plan. Meetings should address those issues that are going poorly. If employees arrive late, don’t waste time catching them up. By knowing they may miss vital information, they will learn to be on time in the future.
Limit the chances for distraction by having your employees turn off their cell phones during meetings. Give your team paper and pen to write notes instead of using their laptops. And try not to hold meetings during lunch hours, so employees won’t be tempted to bring in food.
Meetings can be effective tools for staying on course and boosting employee confidence and morale. But it’s a slippery slope from a productive meeting to a pointless waste of energy, time, and money. Remember, the goal is to conduct efficient meetings to find solutions that best serve your organization. Improving the way you host meetings can, and will, improve your productivity.