If you feel like your entire work life is spent in conference rooms or on conference calls, you are not alone. The amount of time the average employee spends in meetings has been steadily increasing since 2008. According to the Harvard Business Review, 15% of a company’s collective time is spent in meetings. And a Harris/Clarizen poll of 2,066 American adults found that nearly half of those surveyed would choose “any unpleasant activity” (such as a root canal) over a meeting.
Of course, it’s not the idea of a meeting that is to blame. It is the lack of advanced planning by meeting organizers that sink productivity and morale.
Here are some tips to ensure your meetings are worth everyone’s time:
Send invites with plenty of notice. No one likes to get a last-minute meeting invite, especially if they have already planned their day. The time-frame for sending a meeting invite should be based on how much time each participant will need to prepare. The exception is if your organization is dealing with an urgent issue, which requires immediate action.
Draft and circulate a meeting agenda. Your agenda should outline what you will cover in the meeting and define objectives. Share it and any other materials pertinent to the meeting with all attendees at least one day in advance.
Start and stop on time. This sounds easy, but many colleagues use the start of a meeting to chitchat, or meeting organizers wait for everyone to show up before getting started. Respect your colleagues’ time by starting and ending punctually, even if the agenda hasn’t been fully covered.
Use video conferencing. If you are gathering colleagues in various locations, consider using a video conferencing platform like WebExTM. People who are on camera are less likely to multitask, which helps them remain focused and the meeting stays on track.
Assign action items. Everyone should leave the meeting with clearly defined expectations for next steps and which deliverables they need to own. This will make it much easier to get a status update and ensures a more effective follow-up meeting. And nothing conveys the importance of the meeting your just attended like a follow up email that summarizes the actions for all attendees.
Author: Ashlee Goodman