Unproductive meetings where everyone dances around the topic being discussed, very little gets agreed upon and more time is spent discussing everyone’s weekend are the bane of efficiency-focused business owners everywhere.
In a study conducted by Harvard Business review, a staggering 71% of managers surveyed said meetings were unproductive and inefficient. A tortuous, drawn-out and time-sapping meeting can render everyone involved grumpy and disappointed.
Small business consultants Growth Idea have come up with a few ways you can ensure your meetings are purposeful, on-track and on time.
Having an agenda before the meeting
Having advance notice of the meeting and an expectation of what is involved for every attending member of staff is key to productive meetings. How many times has someone been asked a question for them to spend precious seconds and minutes scouring their laptop in search of an answer?
Giving staff members the time and opportunity to prep their answers ahead of the meeting ensures that no one’s time is wasted during the meeting.
It also drastically reduces the unease that people feel at meetings when they aren’t under threat of performing an off-the-cuff response to a certain question.
Make sure everyone that is there needs to be there
If you aren’t expecting everyone in the meeting to contribute, what is the purpose of them attending that meeting? If they aren’t there to get debriefed about a particular topic, their presence isn’t needed.
Whether they’re jumping in and talking over other members during key discussion points or they’re simply sitting there silently not contributing during a brainstorming session, the presence of particular attendees can derail a meeting.
Jeff Bezos has been credited with creating the two pizza rule. If everyone present at a meeting can’t be fed with a grand total of two pizzas, you need to cull certain attendees.
Being strict enough to periodically recap the goal of the meeting helps to ensure that everyone remains goal-oriented and on-task should be a priority for managers. It is far too easy to get distracted and get lost on meandering lines of thought that are, at best, tangential to the stated goal of the meeting. Reminding everyone of the objectives of the meeting throughout is a great way to eke out more productivity out of your meetings.
Clearly demarcated start and end times
Meetings without a clear focus – with no end in sight – can drag on interminably. When no one is sure when the meeting is due to end, there is no incentive to work quickly and efficiently on the task at hand. Making sure that everyone is aware of the time allotted for the meeting and its stated objectives allows everyone to work purposefully and effectively.
Get rid of superfluous in-person meetings
A holdover from the old world. In-person meetings are rarely necessary. What can you achieve in-person that you can’t in a video or phone call? Yes, it is nice to meet a business partner or colleague in person but is it strictly necessary? Travelling to these kinds of meetings can drain massive amounts of time. When you’re in search of brutal, ruthless efficiency, superfluous in-person meetings have to be excised.