Ever wondered why your meetings are so unproductive?
Inefficient meetings are something to be concerned about… Because they take up so many of your valuable resources.
Here are 7 secrets to battle inefficient meetings.
Let’s get right to it.
Are Your Meetings Productive?
First things first:
Are your meetings productive?
That’s what you need to figure out before you try to optimize your meetings.
The bad news?
They probably aren’t.
Just take a look at these statistics on inefficient meetings:
- 71% said meetings are ineffective and unproductive (Harvard Business Review)
- 73% of employees do other work during meetings (TED ideas)
- 37 billion is wasted every year in the US on unproductive meetings (European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology)
But the good news:
You can do something about it.
A lot, in fact.
You see, your meetings need to be set up the right way.
If you have a clear structure and rules, you will get much more done during your meetings.
Why your meetings must be efficient AND effective
Once you have efficient meetings in place, you have a well-oiled machine.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on what you discuss during your meetings.
That’s equally important.
Efficient meetings don’t guarantee effectiveness.
And your meetings need to be effective, too.
What do inefficient meetings look like?
What do inefficient meetings look like?
Good question. Here’s what you need to know.
Ever sat through a meeting and simultaneously checked your phone or laptop?
Ever come out of a meeting room and wondered why you were there at all?
And ever been in meetings where the same things are discussed time and time again?
That’s exactly what an inefficient meeting looks like.
They’re taking up too much, people are fed up with them, and they don’t have any tangible outcome.
Now, if you have inefficient meetings in your business, read on.
How to Hold Better Meetings
Want to finally stop holding inefficient meetings?
Then, use these 7 secrets.
Let’s dive right in.
1. Are short meetings the norm?
Here’s a simple test to see if your meetings are efficient…
How long is your average meeting?
More than 30 minutes?
Then, you might want to take a look at how much you get done during that time.
You see, efficient meetings are short.
If you have a time limit, people will get more focused, talk less, and they certainly won’t have time to check their phones or laptops.
This is a core meeting principle at organizations like Apple, Amazon, and Google.
How do you make sure people follow this time limit?
After all, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment.
So, here’s how to fix that:
Set a visible timer in the meeting room.
When the timer’s alarm goes off, the meeting is over.
Or, use carrots and sticks (in a fun way). For example, if a meeting goes over time, the meeting leader needs to contribute to a charitable cause or the team’s beer money jar.
2. Do your meetings have a meeting leader?
Every meeting needs a leader.
The meeting leader ensures that meetings are prepared, executed efficiently, and have a specific outcome.
Usually, the meeting leader is the one who calls the meeting. It could also be someone responsible for the project, such as a project manager.
75% say that they don’t receive any formal training on how to conduct meetings.
This is a problem — how can people lead meetings efficiently if they don’t know how?
Fortunately, there are a few solutions.
Workshops and trainings
Hold meeting workshops and trainings to guide people on how to hold efficient meetings.
These trainings will more than pay for themselves once your meetings get more and more efficient.
Create meeting guidelines
To make sure your meetings are consistently held, create meeting guidelines.
These are guidelines people follow whenever a meeting is set up.
In them, you detail how to structure meetings and how to efficiently lead them.
Now you know how to make sure your meetings are properly led.
3. Do you have any meeting rules?
Beside time limits and meeting leaders, you need meeting rules.
Clear meeting rules make it easier to implement rules consistently during every meeting.
So, what rules should be in place?
Here are a few examples:
Limit speaking time.
Want to make sure your meeting is efficient?
Limit people’s speaking time.
If every meeting is between 15-30 minutes, every participant gets about 5-10 minutes to speak.
This leads to two things:
#1: People keep to the meeting topic and purpose.
#2: You can be almost sure that people prep before the meeting. This, again, reduces the time you spend in the meeting room.
Ban laptops and mobile phones.
Ask people to leave their phones and laptops at their desks.
Not that they have time to use them with your meeting time limits…
…But it’s good to set this precedent.
After all, distractions are always distractions.
And this way, you can be sure 73% of meeting attendants don’t focus on other work during your meeting.
4. Is there a limited number of meetings?
The #1 rule of efficient meetings is this…
Limit the number of meetings you hold.
Yup. You see, you probably don’t need all those meetings.
Some of them, yes.
But not all of them.
And one of the reasons your meetings are inefficient is that there are just too many of them.
Is a meeting the right forum to discuss the issue?
Or can it maybe be sent in an email?
A group chat message?
That’s how you determine if your meeting is at all needed.
5. Is there a limited number of participants?
In the same way that you limit the number of your meetings, you should limit the number of participants at your meeting.
Too many participants are a distraction. There’s no way they can all contribute to the meeting in 15-30 minutes.
And if people are wasting their time at your meeting… Well, then your meeting isn’t efficient.
What’s the right amount of meeting participants?
Use the “Pizza test”. Would all participants be able to share a pizza?
That’s about the right meeting size.
The key is to think through:
Who NEEDS to be in the meeting room?
Those are the people you should invite.
6. Are your meetings structured?
Here’s the thing…
Besides limiting the number of meetings and participants, you also need to structure them.
What does this mean?
Simple. Here are the different ways to structure a meeting to ensure it’s as efficient as possible.
Your agenda is one of your most important tools to keep your meeting efficient.
It defines what your meeting should be all about.
This agenda is distributed before the meeting to give structure to the meeting.
It outlines the meeting and exactly what you’ll discuss during it.
That way, your meeting doesn’t get distracted by off-topic discussions.
Second, your meeting needs minutes.
The thing about minutes is that they record your meeting so that you know everyone agrees on what was discussed during the meeting.
You avoid discussing the same things over and over again in your meetings.
And that’s how you structure your meetings in the most efficient way possible.
But what about after the meeting?
What does the structure look like then?
That’s what we’ll look at next.
7. Is there a follow-up system?
Once your meeting has come to an end, you want a smooth follow-up system.
Only then can your meetings truly efficient- because they don’t keep spinning around the same issues.
What does a good follow-up system look like?
You need to make your follow-up system accessible.
Distribute documents right after the meeting that everyone has access to.
You can use a tool like Google Drive or a meeting app, like Minute.
These are tools that are easy to collaborate and follow up on.
Your meeting follow-up system should include deadlines.
After all, this is how you make sure the meetings tasks get done.
If there aren’t specific time limits on the tasks, they’re easy to de-prioritize.
Instead, you want to make sure they’re top of mind.
Your meeting tasks need specific owners.
These owners are in charge of ensuring that their tasks get done.
During your meeting, assign tasks to every participant.
In the end, this ensures that your meeting follow-up system works.
Start Holding Efficient Meetings That Make a Difference
Now you know how to go from inefficient meetings to meetings that make the best use of everyone’s time.
The question is:
How will you implement this?
Take the simplest step.
Set up a meeting training and develop it from there.
Let us know:
How are you planning on making your meetings more efficient?