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Time is Money: How to Stop the Meeting Madness

Meetings! Some love them. Others don’t. Either way, they are an inevitable part of any functioning organization. When led effectively, meetings are well worth the time investment. However, we all know they can easily become time-wasters and energy drainers. When we pay attention to the attendance list, form a strict agenda in advance, and conclude with action items, (good) meetings can unleash new insights and promote productivity.  

Attendees 

We’ve probably all attended meetings and had the thought, “Why am I here?” When thinking through meeting attendees, we need to take a step back and ask: Who actually needs to be in the meeting? What do I want from each person there?  

Aside from wasting people’s time, too many attendees in a meeting creates a “hiding-in-a-crowd” feeling and discourages participation. In addition to filtering your invite list, let people know what you need from them in the meeting. When you have a role to engage in, meetings are an honor rather than an obligation. Fewer people, who know exactly why they are in the meeting, creates an environment for creativity and productivity. 

Agenda 

Every productive meeting has a strict agenda. If you’re struggling to come up with an agenda, consider whether the meeting is even necessary. Perhaps this is one of those meetings that would be more productive as an email instead.

Once you’ve got your agenda, send it out ahead of time to attendees, particularly if you need them to brainstorm or form an opinion on a complicated issue. If you try to introduce a complicated question during a meeting, attendees must quickly try to process the question and generate ideas. Better ideas are likely to come from more extensive processing time prior to the meeting. Capitalize on your time together by giving attendees a list of questions to ponder and investigate well ahead of time. 

In addition to setting an agenda, you must follow the agenda. This can be difficult if you have a particularly chatty group. As the leader, you need to set up and enforce some norms for success. Perhaps you devote the first 5 minutes of a meeting to non-business-related chatting (a segue, if you will), and then turn your attention to the heart of the meeting. Even so, you may have people who have a difficult time staying on track. Record their tangents, but make it clear they belong in a seperate meeting. It’s the leader’s job to keep the meeting focused. 

Action Items 

Conclude each meeting with a summary of what’s happened and a list of action items. Each action item should have a due date and a person responsible for completing it. Discuss the summary and action items at the end of the meeting, and then follow up with an email directly after the meeting ends. This provides meeting attendees with a written record and reminds them of their responsibilities.  If you were wise enough to record the meeting, include a link to the recording in that email too. 

Brevity is Wit

If you’ve managed to stick to your agenda and your attendees all came prepared to the meeting, there’s a high likelyhood it’s been very productive.  If there’s time left on the clock, that is not time to spend on new items.  That’s time you can gift back to your attendees.  Thank them for their time and their ideas.  Then, end the meeting early.  

Wrapping Up 

By auditing the attendance list, setting and following an agenda, and ending with action items, you can capitalize on meeting time. Over the course of a year, following these best practices can have a major impact on a company’s bottom line.  Additionally, when enough meeting leaders implement these changes, the norms and attitudes around meetings will begin to shift. Attendees will start to expect more from meetings: both to get more out of them and to bring more energy, ideas, and expertise to them.  

Our Manage 4 Performance platform helps companies be more strategic about meetings. When you join M4P you will unleash a competitive advantage through saved money, saved time, and better ideas. Book a demo today.  We’ll be sure to keep it a short meeting.   

Meetings! Some love them. Others don’t. Either way, they are an inevitable part of any functioning organization. When led effectively, meetings are well worth the time investment. However, we all know they can easily become time-wasters and energy drainers. When we pay attention to the attendance list, form an agenda in advance, and conclude with action items, meetings can unleash new insights and promote productivity.  

Attendees 

We’ve probably all attended meetings and had the thought, “Why am I here?” When thinking through meeting attendees, we need to take a step back and ask: Who actually needs to be at the meeting? What do I want from each person there?  

Aside from wasting people’s time, more attendees in a meeting creates a “hiding-in-a-crowd” feeling and discourages participation. In addition to filtering your invite list, let people know what you want from them in a meeting. When you have a role to engage in, meetings are an honor rather than an obligation. Fewer people, who know exactly why they are at a meeting, creates an environment for productivity. 

Agenda 

Every productive meeting has an agenda. If you’re struggling to come up with an agenda, consider whether the meeting is actually necessary! Sending out the agenda ahead of time can make your meetings more productive, particularly if you need meeting participants to brainstorm or form an opinion on an issue beforehand. If you try to introduce a complicated question in a meeting, attendees must quickly try to process the question and generate ideas. Better ideas are likely to come from more extensive processing time prior to the meeting. Capitalize on your time together by giving attendees a list of questions to ponder and investigate ahead of time. 

In addition to setting an agenda, you must follow the agenda! This can be difficult if you have a particularly chatty group. As the leader, you need to set up and enforce some norms for success. Perhaps you devote the first 5 minutes of a meeting to non-business-related chatting, and then turn your attention to the purpose of the meeting. Even so, you may have people who have a difficult time staying on track. This will require you to kindly but firmly guide the group back to the relevant topics at hand. It’s the leader’s job to keep the meeting focused on the agenda, and many people will be grateful when you do. 

Action Items 

End each meeting with a summary of what’s happened and a list of action items. Each action item should have a due date and a person responsible for completing it. Discuss the summary and action items at the end of the meeting, and then follow up with an email directly after the meeting ends. This provides meeting attendees with a written record and reminds them of their responsibilities. 

Wrapping Up 

By auditing the attendance list, setting and following an agenda, and ending with action items, you can capitalize on meeting time. Over the course of a year, following these best practices can have a major impact on a company’s bottom line.  Additionally, when enough meeting leaders implement these changes, the norms and attitudes around meetings will begin to shift. Attendees will start to expect more from meetings: both to get more out of them and to bring more energy, ideas, and expertise to them.  

Our Manage 4 Performance platform helps companies be more strategic about meeting time. When you join M4P you will unleash a competitive advantage through saved money, saved time, and better ideas. Book a demo today to learn more!  

Post Categories: Insights
Date Published: Jun 10, 2022
Post Categories: Insights
Date Published: Jun 10, 2022