Do you sometimes feel as though you’re attending meeting after meeting and, in some cases, meetings to discuss meetings? If so, you’re not alone. A London School of Economics and Harvard Business School study showed that executives spend roughly 18 hours a week in meetings. That calculates to nearly 1,000 hours a year! Knowing that it’s important to make sure each meeting is as productive and worthwhile as possible.
In order to guarantee that time isn’t wasted, be sure the following tips are incorporated in the planning and execution of your team’s next meeting.
1. Have a purpose. It’s common for a team to meet once a week to discuss what’s coming up in the schedule, but is it necessary? Before deciding on getting a group together, be sure the topics or issues at hand are truly important to discuss with the whole team. Once executives evaluate the reason for the meeting, they might find it would be just as, if not more, beneficial to send the message they want to convey in an email or discuss it over the phone.
2. Evaluate which employees need to be a part of the discussion. Invite only those individuals that truly need to be involved. Employees who are in meetings they don’t need to be a part of are not at their desks completing tasks vital to the company’s success. Additionally, having more people involved in a discussion than necessary can lead to off-topic conversations, inadequate input, or other disruptions to productive communication.
3. Have a definite start and end time. Make sure everyone involved in the meeting knows when it is to start and end and be sure to stick to those times as closely as possible. If a meeting begins later than planned, time is wasted, and if a meeting runs longer than planned, less time is left for employees to devote to their individual responsibilities. Having and sticking to a specific time frame allows for better time management for all parties involved.
4. Keep it short. After a certain amount of time, participants can become inattentive and unenergetic, which is why it’s recommended that meetings run less than one hour in length, with two hours being the absolute maximum. If a meeting must run longer, 15-minute breaks should be included for individuals to use the restroom, grab a drink, and/or tend to voice messages and emails.
5. Give attendees an ample amount of time to prepare. Its good practice to provide participants with a meeting outline one to two days beforehand, if possible. The outline should include discussion points and the amount of time allocated to each topic. This will give individuals time to review the purpose of the meeting and think of ways to best contribute.