November 2018 - Meetings: Tips for Making Them More Meaningful

According to a recent survey conducted by Accountemps, office workers spend 21% of their time in meetings, 25% of which they feel are a waste of time. One of the biggest complaints was that meetings are called to share information that could have been communicated through email. 

The results of a Harvard Business Study in 2017 showed that managers are also dissatisfied with meetings, finding them unproductive and inefficient, with 65% of managers reporting that meetings keep them from completing their work.

Let’s face it. Most business owners aren’t trained in how to facilitate effective meetings. So how can we make meetings more meaningful?

  1. Prepare. Know the purpose of the meeting and what you hope to accomplish.
  2. Limit the number of participants. Did you know that the most productive meetings have fewer than 8 participants? 
  3. Send an agenda and related documents in advance. Letting your team review the information to be covered, the proposal to be discussed, etc. prior to meeting will promote more thoughtful discussion.
  4. Start (and end!) on time. Those who are punctual to the meeting will appreciate your respect for their time. If you are waiting on stragglers, consider covering a few lighter items to let latecomers gain focus before addressing deeper issues.
  5. Make sure all attendees can participate. Anticipate which team members will dominate the conversation and plan for drawing out other individuals on specific topics or for different insight.
  6. Take notes. Making the meeting agenda and associated documents, as well as written notes that everyone can access will help participants stay on track regarding action items.
  7. Follow up. As with any plan you make or tasks you delegate, follow up is crucial to success. 

As you restructure meetings within your own company or organization, consider Bill Gates’ take on meetings: “You have a meeting to make a decision, not to decide on the question.”

Source: SHRM, HR Magazine, “Meeting Misery” by Dori Meinert
November/December 2018 Issue

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