Meetings are probably one of the worst and painful parts of being in the office. They are generally unproductive and sap every bit of life from your day. According to the National Statistics Council, 37% of employee time is spent in meetings, and 47% of employees consider too many meetings to be the biggest waste of time during the day.
But they can be fun with a little forward planning and effort you can look forward to meetings. I have used this approach and it certainly saves me time and increases my enjoyment!
What type of meeting are you having? Decide this first. There are only 3 types of meeting.
- Short and action orientated meetings – decision making meetings less than 1 hr.
- Ideas meetings- thinking about resolving a problem or creating an opportunity. These should be free flowing were no idea is a bad idea. No more than 2 hours.
- Long term planning – building your plan, setting goals and objectives for the business. No more than 4 hours as one session.
Having limits to your time focuses the mind but it does mean that you have to be prepared and plan the session in advance. If you are clear what the meeting’s purpose is then you are setting the tempo and focus for the session.
Be Prepared – send out agenda and papers 24 hours in advance. Make sure you have read them and have your questions/recommendations. Agree time for each agenda item. The time should be allocated in two parts – discussion and decision.
Manage the time – Only have a few things on your agenda, be realistic about what you can cover in the time you have. Do not let any item over run. If the decision can’t be made in that time agree an action for next steps and put on the agenda for the next meeting.( you will be surprised how initially many decisions will carry forward. But everyone soon gets into the swing of it)
Gain feedback – Every month review the success of the meeting and its purpose. Is it having the desired effect or is it running out of steam. What ideas do the group have to bring it back to being fun and productive? Change the time, change the length change the focus or the attendees.
So today, when you look at your diary and see a day full of meetings ask yourself a few questions – even better ask them in the meeting:
- What is the purpose of this meeting?
- If we had to get this meeting to under an hour what would we change?
- What are the decisions we need to make today?
Let me know how you get on. See if you can make meetings fun.