Meetings have a bad rap. According to research published by Entrepreneur, the average employee attends 62 of them a month – and considers 50% of those to be a waste of time. All in all, says Entrepreneur, 31 hours a month are lost in unproductive meetings.
That’s just shy of four days a month … half a quarter per year.
To be useful, meetings should achieve three objectives:
- They should be concise.
- They should be efficient.
- They should provide actionable information.
The biggest problem is self-reinforcing: Nobody wants to be there, so few participants make the best use of the time. Even those who strive to be totally prepared must often contend with a low-energy, unfocused environment.
Could the Answer to Meetings be More Meetings?
Some leadership experts say yes.
Informal, ad-hoc, and “surprise” meetings make up a major part of the time devoted to meetings. Some executives have achieved great results with the daily huddle: A brief, small-scale, targeted meeting that takes place every morning.
You might be tempted to groan at the thought of a meeting every day, but there are benefits:
- Miscommunication is reduced, freeing up time usually spent putting out fires.
- Teams are empowered to respond to opportunities and adapt to problems faster.
- Weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings become shorter and more effective.
A good meeting can be energizing and empowering, but it may take some innovative thinking.
Consider these approaches:
Set & Communicate Agendas in Advance
Developing an agenda ahead of time makes people aware of their role and what they should expect. It also provides an easy way to recognize when things are getting off track so you can sideline off topic ideas and revisit them later.
Always Start on Time
If you don’t start on time, you won’t end on time. A meeting that runs late can throw off a team’s schedule for the entire day, so clearly communicate expectations and then stick to them.
Only Include Those Necessary
Sometimes, large groups with diverse stakeholders can generate great ideas. In many cases, though, big meetings get unfocused and teams tune out details that “don’t apply to them.” When a meeting is lean, it can be efficient and powerful.
End with Clear Next Steps
Failure to accomplish anything might just be the biggest culprit for meetings’ bad reputation. Just as in sales or marketing, meetings should end with a “call to action” so everyone is aware of their responsibilities. If no one knows what to do, they won’t do anything!
No matter what you think of meetings, it’s not too late to shift to a more dynamic and value-added approach. With a few tweaks, you could find them to be something to look forward to.