While meetings are essential for collaboration and alignment within an organization, no one has time for a meeting in which nothing is accomplished. According to research, there are 25 million meetings per day in the U.S. Additionally, middle managers spend about 35% of their time in meetings, while upper management spends up to 55% of their time in meetings.[i] To drive the point home, unproductive meetings can waste up to $37 billion per year. For this reason, it’s crucial that meetings are effective and productive.
Here are the top three ways to ensure meeting effectiveness:
Create an Agenda and Set the Intention
One of the most important components of an effective and productive meeting is making sure that everyone comes prepared. In order for attendees to prepare for the meeting, they must know what will be discussed. Prior to the meeting, send out an agenda with the main topics that will be touched upon in the meeting.[ii] This can be as simple as a few bullet points highlighting key areas. Also, be sure to send the agenda giving attendees enough time to prepare for their participation in the meeting. Attendees who are able to prepare are more likely to be active in sharing their ideas in the meeting. At the opening of the meeting, make sure to share the intention or the end goal of the meeting. It is important for attendees to know what the meeting is hoping to accomplish.
Stay on Task and Watch the Clock
The number one way to negatively impact the effectiveness of the meeting is not staying on task. This tip goes hand-in-hand with setting an agenda for the meeting. If a meeting is scheduled to discuss a given task, you should not spend that time discussing your topic for a meeting later that afternoon or next week. Stay focused and use the time to discuss the meeting’s designated topic. Additionally, be sure to watch the clock during meetings.[iii] It can be helpful to assign each attendee an allotted time to speak to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to share their thoughts. Be sure to stay within the time constraints of the scheduled meeting, or if necessary schedule another meeting.
Set Actionable Goals for After the Meeting
The effectiveness of a meeting is not over at the end of the scheduled hour. The effectiveness of a meeting shows in the results that come after a meeting. At the end of the meeting or throughout the meeting, be sure to plan what will be done after the meeting. Your discussion in a meeting holds no value if you do not take action afterwards. Set goals for each attendee so they are well aware of what is expected of them following the meeting.
While meetings may take up much of our time, if we use the time wisely, meetings can lead to great action.