Sleeping, thinking about sleep, checking your fantasy football league’s waiver wire, texting, snickering at memes on Facebook. We’ve all done one or more of these things while in a work meeting.
A recent study by Atlassian found that the average American worker goes to 62 meetings per month. Even worse, ½ of these meetings are considered a waste of time by employees.
This results in an average of 31 hours per month, spent in unproductive meetings. In total, unnecessary and unproductive meetings cost U.S. businesses a total of $37 billion a year.
Protect your employees’ time and the business’ efficiency by eliminating unnecessary and unproductive meetings.
Here are five different ways that you can improve your meetings and improve your company’s performance, overall.
1. Practice Time Management
Do your best to ensure that your meetings are both starting and ending on time. According to Inc.com, 95 percent of meetings do not start on time.
When you begin on time, you demonstrate to your coworkers or employees that their time is valuable too. If you consistently start and end your meetings on time, you will gain a reputation as someone who runs prompt meetings.
As Forbes says, this reputation will increase the likelihood that people will be motivated to attend your meetings. A definite ending time also pushes people to be more productive as they are faced with the timer running out.
Additionally, do not schedule any meetings to go over an hour. In general, 60 minutes is the longest amount of time that workers can maintain engagement.
2. Define Your Objective
One of the keys to making your meeting productive is defining that meeting’s objective. Every meeting needs to have a specific purpose. Focus on goals where your team’s input can have a direct impact on the outcome.
Some questions to ask yourself when defining your objective are:
— What is the most important thing I want to accomplish?
— What am I most concerned about?
— Am I looking to arrive at a decision by a particular time?
— What information do I (my team) need, to make a decision?
Having a defined objective allows you and other participants to maximize the productivity of that meeting. A specific purpose also leads directly to the next step…
3. Make an Agenda
You should create a clear and concise agenda before every meeting. This agenda needs to lay out everything that you plan on covering during the meeting. Make a list of items you want to be accomplished in regards to your (previously defined) objective.
For best results, make sure that every item on your agenda is actionable, and designed with your purpose in mind. Also, be sure to include any necessary background information with your agenda so that everyone in the meeting has the same information.
Finally, your agenda should be sent to every attendee at least 24 hours in advance. Every person should go into the meeting knowing what the schedule is and what they can hope to achieve.
4. Double Check Who is Invited
Make sure that you are only inviting employees whose presence is necessary. If an individual does not have any influence on the decision at hand, they do not need to be invited.
Show your employees and coworkers that you respect their time, and be selective with who you invite to your meetings. Remember, the point of a meeting is to make decisions and complete work.
Unless sensitive material is involved, there are more efficient ways to share information than a face to face meeting.
5. Follow Up
The final key to any meeting is following up promptly. During the meeting, you should be taking detailed notes over the proceedings. Use your notes to recap key decisions made or any insights that you gained during the meeting.
In addition to these outcomes, you should have an idea of what your next steps will be. Your follow-up should include who is responsible for these next steps.
Make sure that when you are assigning tasks, you are assigning them to individuals (not teams or functions), and have realistic deadlines for each step.
When looking to improve your meeting process, here are the numbers you need to remember: 96, 91, and 73. According to Atlassian: 96 percent of employees have missed meetings, 91 percent have daydreamed during meetings, and 73 percent did other work in meetings.
None of this is to suggest that meetings are completely unnecessary, or that they offer no benefits, but most businesses could stand to improve the quality of their meetings.
Use these five tips to better engage employees, and increase the overall productivity of your meetings. Make sure that every time you prepare your meet; it’s well-done.