You may be watching your company’s financial situation with an eagle eye, being careful to budget wisely and cut out waste. But what are you doing to maximize one of your company’s most valuable resources, one that is often overlooked on the balance sheet?
I’m talking about time. More specifically, time spent in meetings. Research has shown an organization spends about 15 percent of its time in meetings every year. According to “How Much Time Do We Spend in Meetings? (Hint: It’s Scary)” people in upper management can spend up to 50 percent of their time in meetings.
Here are a few scary facts from that article:
– There are 25 million meetings in the US every day
– More than $37 billion is spent on unproductive meetings
– Executives consider more than 67 percent of meetings to be failures
You may be reading this in a meeting right now, as 92 percent of people surveyed said they multitask during meetings.
So how do you stop wasting your company’s time and make those meetings more effective? Here are some tips for making meetings add to your company’s bottom line, not take away from it.
- Make sure you need to meet in the first place
Does this communication need to be in a meeting, or can it be adequately handled with a group email or text? If you’re just looking for a status update or feedback on a project, you probably don’t need to meet. Have a clear purpose in mind. What do you want to accomplish with a meeting?
- Always have an agenda
To keep meetings productive, focused and on track, always have an agenda. Decide what your goal is and what input you need from attendees to accomplish that goal. Send the agenda far enough in advance to let the attendees have time to prepare if necessary.
If you find the meeting getting off track, reign it back in by moving back to your agenda and tabling important issues that are raised for a separate discussion or follow up.
This step can actually help with step #1. If you are trying to create an agenda and find there isn’t much you need to meet about, cancel the meeting and send an email.
- Make the meeting the right size to accomplish your goal
Only invite people whose attendance is necessary. Ask yourself who will have the input necessary for you to achieve the stated goal of your meeting. Who would be most affected by its outcome? Who do you need to implement the decisions you make?
You can also invite people to the meeting if their input is needed for just one part, then allow them to leave when that section of the meeting is over.
Some people use the 8-18-1800 rule to decide how big a meeting should be.
- To solve a problem or make a decision, invite no more than eight people.
- For brainstorming, go as high as 18 people.
- If you need status updates, and everyone present is providing an update, go as high as 18.
- If you’re meeting for a pep talk or morale booster, bigger is better. Go for 1,800 or beyond!
- Phones down, heads up
You’ve carefully determined your goal, planned your agenda and invited the necessary people to the meeting. But now everyone has their heads down, looking at their phones.
Consider asking all personal devices be switched off and put away. Sounds drastic, I know, but you need people’s full attention and concentration.
- Follow up with key decisions made and action items.
We’ve all attended a meeting and started a discussion only for someone to ask, “Didn’t we already make a decision on that? Who was following up?”
To make sure the meeting is productive, have someone send a follow-up email with what key decisions were made and what is going to be accomplished by what date and who is doing what tasks.
That email will serve as documentation of the decisions you made and hold people accountable for what needs to be accomplished.