Make meetings more efficient with these 12 tips
Have you ever walked through the office and heard someone complain about a meeting they had to go to? What about you – how many times have you resented having to leave your desk to head to a conference room?
Meetings have, unfortunately, gained a bit of a bad reputation. Usually, it's not the people in the meeting that create the dread; rather, it's the content (or lack thereof). If meetings aren't structured correctly, people leave without knowing what the next steps are and frustrated by the unproductivity.
Leadership expert Dan Rockwell puts a number on the cost of inefficient meetings: $399 billion lost by U.S. companies every year. As the leader of an organization, you should be doing all you can to keep business costs efficient. Here are some recommendations from Rockwell to make sure your meetings aren't wasting time and money:
- Eliminate back-to-back meetings. Give employees time to catch up on emails and other work before heading into another meeting. See #2, which will help, and Rockwell also suggests ending meetings 10 minutes before the top of the hour.
- Shorten standard meeting length to 25 minutes. Chitchat is commonplace in meetings. While it plays a role in building relationships with your team, reducing meeting times will help you get down to business faster.
- Prepare people to participate and put them on the agenda. Efficient meetings should have an agenda of what will be covered, and who in the meeting will be leading that discussion point.
- Improve meetings. Seek feedback occasionally on what went well or poorly in a meeting and ask for ideas to make it better next time.
- Declare "No Meeting" times or even days. Calendar-blocking is a great way to organize your day. By putting holds on your calendar to clean out your inbox and accomplish daily responsibilities, you'll be much more productive and focused.
- Make meetings small. "Observe the two-pizza rule. Two medium pizzas can feed all attendees," Rockwell writes.
- Eliminate multi-tasking. Leave phones and laptops (unless needed for the presentation) in your office. Set the expectation that the meeting – and the people in the meeting – deserve your undivided attention.
- Spend time building relationships. Meetings are more open and honest when employees feel safe and respected.
- Don't talk about it unless you plan to do something about it. Unless the meeting is called "venting session," it is not the place to bring up grievances unless you have a solution to offer.
- Make decisions in the meeting, NOT before the meeting. If your mind is already made up, what's the point of taking up people's time to pitch you?
- Eliminate interrupting and bloviating. Be respectful. Give the speaker time to make their points and include a Q&A portion after to address questions.
- Reduce observers. Going back to #3 and #6, restrict meetings to only those who have something to add to the discussion or will be part of implementing next steps.
Meetings should be intentional – only schedule them when there is a specific item to address and solutions to consider, and only include teammates who will contribute to the strategy. Save your company time and money by implementing these recommendations.
Follow me on Twitter (@BDanBerger).
About the Author
B. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and helped turn the association into the premiere advocate for the credit union industry. Since becoming president and CEO in 2013, Berger, who is also an author, economist, and one of Washington's top lobbyists, is credited with bringing national attention to key policy issues, while ensuring NAFCU's members meet policymakers at the highest levels of government.