No one likes being in long meetings. Not only are they boring, but they cut into time that could be spent doing work. It's estimated that people spend an average of 31 unproductive hours in meetings each month. That's nearly an entire week per month spent in meetings. If you're looking for ways to run more efficient, productive meetings, try these five tips.
1. Have an Agenda
As a general rule, every meeting should have a clear and measurable agenda with action items and next steps. Try to set the standard by sending the agenda out before the meeting or including it as a note in the invitation itself. This habit helps create a culture of accountability and preparedness, and it will inspire others to follow suit.
2. Avoid Repeat Meeting Invites
Repeat meetings can all too quickly become obsolete, causing people to tune out or even skip the meeting entirely. Unless it's absolutely necessary (for example, a weekly meeting to review billings with your accountant), try to avoid regular meetings.
3. Cut Your Meeting Times
Meetings are like liquids; they take the shape of the container you put them in. If you give a meeting an hour, it will fill the space. However, if you schedule a meeting for 20 minutes, you'll find you can almost always address everything you need to. Stray away from the default hour-long meeting, and test out shorter times. You might be surprised by how quickly you can accomplish the agenda when you stay focused.
4. Scrutinize Your Invite List
More often than not, meetings include unnecessary attendees. Do four people from marketing really need to be in every website design review? As you're crafting your invite list for a meeting, try to whittle it down to as few people as possible. The meeting will run smoother, and the people you don't invite will have more productive time in their day.
5. Assign a Task Master
At the start of each meeting, select one person who is responsible for keeping the meeting on track. This person should call out when the meeting gets sidetracked, when conversations are running too long, and when people are losing focus. This helps create a team-wide culture of productivity at each meeting and empowers one person to get things back on track — a task that can be unnerving unless the role is assigned to you.
As you work to improve the efficiency of your meetings, try one, two or all five of these tips. Not only will you save time, but your meeting attendees will thank you for their increased productivity.
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