Meetings are a necessary evil in most companies. Especially as the remote workforce continues to grow, ongoing communication – whether face-to-face, over video conference, or some other mode – becomes all the more important. However, if you don’t keep meetings under control, they can quickly become unproductive – and reviled by your team. Luckily, there’s a few meeting time-wasters you can look out for.
Here’s a run-down of the top 10 ways you’re wasting time in meetings:
Scheduling unnecessary ones
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it comes up again and again: you don’t always need a meeting. Collaboration and communication is great, but sometimes a conversation can easily be accomplished over email, messaging, or the phone. Nothing makes employees hate meetings more than having their schedule full of unnecessary ones.
Inviting too many people
Meetings with continually expanding invite lists have the same effect as extraneous CC’s on an email – employees simply view them as clutter. To avoid this, be ruthless with your invite list. If you can’t clearly verbalize why a team member needs to be in a meeting, they might not need to be in it.
Letting people talk to much
Some people love to speak in meetings. That can be a real time-waster, but there’s a larger problem, as we mentioned in a recent post: if there’s a too-dominant voice, the whole group will instinctively fall in with their ideas – thereby killing off any other great ideas in the room. To avoid this, keep discussions balanced and inclusive.
Not making a schedule
Whether it’s for a weekly one-on-one or a yearly town hall, an agenda is crucial. It keeps the meeting on track, and also shows your team that you value their time enough to prepare. Come into each meeting with the points you intend to cover, and the action items that will hopefully result.
Allowing too much time
There is a reason that high school classes run for 50 minutes. The human brain can only absorb so much in one sitting. To address this, try swapping long department meetings for quick daily stand-ups, or simply capping meeting lengths office-wide. A team with a time limit will power through the agenda with purpose.
Not defining the type of meeting
There’s a seemingly endless list of meeting types: creative brainstorming sessions, project reviews, planning sessions, performance reviews, one-on-ones…it goes on and on. When you’re setting up a meeting, it’s important to designate the type as well – this will help to ensure you’re scheduling the appropriate amount of time, and booking the right type of room or space. It will also help your employees to arrive in the right mindset.
This is closely tied to always creating an agenda: if you plan a meeting, you should come to it with all the information relevant to the conversation. If you’re missing key information that you know will come up at the meeting, track it down beforehand, or consider rescheduling the meeting until the assets are available. There’s nothing more frustrating for an employee than sitting through a meeting and leaving more confused than when you started.
There’s a flip side to this. If you are following a script too much, there’s no space for discussion. Even in the case of a presentation, be sure to allocate time at the end for questions and comments – it keeps the tone collaborative, and ensures that employees remain engaged and interested.
Relying too heavily on AV (and, not preparing it)
Ah, the heavy collective sigh when a PowerPoint presentation doesn’t open. Or a projector won’t turn on. Or a computer freezes. AV can help to clarify points or visualize data, but it can also cause major headaches. If you need any kind of tech in a meeting, sort it out ahead of time, or schedule IT to set it up for you before the meeting is scheduled to begin.
Yes, your team members should be taking notes throughout a meeting – in fact, it’s a sign they’re actually listening. But if they’re scrambling to take down every word you say, or every slide in your presentation, they’re going to miss the bigger picture. Designate a note-taker that can send out the meeting’s minutes afterward, along with any relevant slides or documents.
By avoiding these 10 meeting time-wasters, you can keep your team engaged and collaborative – and most importantly, productive.