This is a guest post by Eugene, a Program Manager at Quill. While he is not working, he enjoys traveling, taking photographs and using Instagram.
Meetings are a necessary part of any company. From smaller businesses that need to plan out staffing needs to multinational corporations that coordinate a yearly employee meeting, gatherings happen.
The size, duration, and topic may change, but what doesn’t seem to change, though, is that many people believe meetings to be a waste of time—and money.
Current estimates place the cost of unnecessary meetings at $37 billion—yes billion—a year.
And the cost can be written in more than dollars: Employees often see meetings as time they could better spend doing other things (like working). Nearly half of all employees in just one survey said that meetings were the biggest waste of their time.
So if there are 11 million meetings every day and plenty of employees find themselves doing other things in meetings—checking their phones, nodding off—then what is a business to do?
Fortunately, there are some steps that can transform time-wasting meetings into productive work zones that people look forward to, not dread.
1. Every meeting needs a definition.
What’s happening at the meeting? Are you making decisions, sharing information, or just gathering ideas? In addition, be wary of inviting people just to invite them.
Smaller meetings with fewer people can accomplish much more than can big meetings with too many voices.
2. Set some ground rules and have an agenda.
It may seem unnecessary, but beginning all meetings with the same sets of rules—who can talk, when they can talk, what you can talk about—can keep you from losing control over a meeting.
You can also avoid meetings on certain days of the week, like Monday, in order to increase productivity.
3. Always follow up.
As much as you do a lot of prep work, such as sending reminders and having an agenda, you must also do some follow-up after a meeting. That involves taking notes of what was decided and what the next steps are, as well as sharing those results so that everyone is on the same page.
Meeting post-mortems should also include levels of responsibility—who is doing what, who they report to, when things are due.
4. Analyze and optimize.
You must also be respectful of the time you allot for meetings. If you run over, that can have a snowball effect for everyone, making them late for other meetings or eating into their time that needs to be dedicated to finishing tasks.
You can also have some meeting soul-searching time, where you look at meetings that went well and those that didn’t to try to figure out what you can capitalize on or what you should change for the next time.
Luckily you can use meetings to your advantage, to build stronger teams that work better, that accomplish necessary goals, that are creative and productive.
But to do so you need to spend time thinking about, planning for, and following up on meetings, as well as thinking about them strategically.
This graphic, with clearly stated to-dos and ideas, helps guide you through meetings that everyone looks forward to and don’t avoid.
What about your company? How can meetings be more effective?