How many hours a week do you waste in meetings? Studies show that there are approximately 11 million meetings each day in the US and that 50% of the time is wasted. That’s an amazing amount of time thrown away instead of used productively.
I’ve seen a variety of levels of effectiveness in this area. Some organizations require meetings to be done well and it’s just become part of the culture while others use the shotgun approach to meetings. When meetings are done well it impacts the entire atmosphere of the office. You know that things will be covered efficiently and things will get done.
On the other hand poor meetings can really drag down the overall productivity of the office. People dread going to meetings so they procrastinate on preparation and then the meetings accomplish less than planned, so another meeting is needed. And so on and so on…..
How can you minimize the impact to your productivity? If you do this one thing your meeting time will be much more productive and you will end up with more time outside of meetings to get things done.
- Have a clear agenda prior to the meeting
Having an agenda published before the meeting allows everyone to know what is going to be covered, what must be done to prepare, what is needed to have in the meeting, why each person specifically have been invited, and when and where to show up. If you were invited to a meeting without getting an agenda, ask for one.
Sometimes an agenda is not needed such as where the people invited are there to receive information only. When participation and decisions are part of the outcome of the meeting an agenda is critical to the success of the meeting.
Besides letting people know why their presence is needed and what they need to do it, an agenda helps to keep the meeting on task and on time. The meeting leader can use the agenda to keep people on track with the discussion and minimize off topic distractions. If the leader isn’t controlling the meeting the others can use the agenda to get it back on track as well.
The agenda is a clear plan for the meeting and when shared in advance everyone can keep focused on the right things. From my experience this is the single biggest key to effective meetings.
Please share your ideas on the key to effective meetings.