Stop wasting your time! More productive meetings start here

By Nicole Tinkham

Stop wasting your time!

Ever have a meeting drag on and on and nothing ever seems to get accomplished? If this sounds like a typical meeting at your office, you’re not alone. About 62 meetings are attended each month by the average employee. Half of those meetings are considered a waste of time. That’s 31 hours of wasted time each month! It seems silly to keep having these pointless meetings, right? It’s time to STOP wasting your time and start having more productive meetings. Here’s how.

Set an agenda
Too often do meetings get planned with only a general topic and a start time. Meetings should not be left open ended like that. Setting an agenda ahead of time will keep everyone focused and on task. Send the agenda out to everyone attending the meeting so they can come prepared.

Set a clear time to start
Never say a meeting starts at 9:30-ish or “in the afternoon”. Set a clear start to the meeting and actually begin on time. Don’t wait around for people to show up. One way to ensure that everyone’s on time is to set the meeting to start at an odd time, like 9:23 AM. Being specific will draw attention to the start time and help employees remember it.

Host standing meetings
If everyone’s nice and comfy sitting in chairs around a big conference table, it’s easy to lose track of time and go off topic. Standing meetings on the other hand run super quick. You tend to get right to the point, discuss everything planned, and end the meeting so everyone can get back to work at their desks. As long as there’s no paperwork involved, take standing meetings outside for some fresh air!

Keep them short and simple
Most meetings tend to default to an hour long or don’t have an ending time in place at all. This is a huge mistake as that extra time can easily be eaten up by topics not on the agenda. Look at the agenda and honestly consider how much time it will take to complete everything. Don’t leave any extra cushion room. If everyone knows there’s a time limit, things should be covered more quickly. We recommend 15 minute meetings. To ensure they don’t go past the allotted time, set a timer.

Consider who needs to be in the meeting
Sit down and think about who absolutely needs to be in each meeting. You may be tempted to invite just about everyone in case they can benefit from it. However, doing this only takes that person away from their daily job duties. Plus the more people there are, the more the conversation can get out of control. We recommend hosting small meetings with only 5 to 7 people.

No computers allowed
Have everyone go old school and jot down notes with a pen on paper. Remember those tools?? It’s proven that those who take written notes understand the concept more clearly than those who type notes on a computer. Why does this matter? If everyone clearly understands the topics discussed, there’s no need to go over it again and waste more time. Oh and leave cell phones behind too. They’re just another distraction.

End with action steps
It should be clear what each meeting attendee is responsible for moving forward. Wrap up each meeting with a to-do list so everyone is on the same page.

Make dreaded office meetings a thing of the past! It’s typically not the meeting itself that’s the problem rather the chunk of time it takes out of one’s day. The science behind a good meeting is simple. Keep it short and organized with a clear start and end time. Set an agenda and only invite those directly involved. Just doing these few things will save you and employees a ton of time and frustration.

Think you host excellent meetings? Tell us, what’s your secret?

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