According to an article I read most employees spends 31 hours in unproductive meetings, and attend 62 meetings a month. Not shocked yet? Check out this Meeting Infographic. According to Atlassian,
- a good 91% day dreamed during meetings (this is not shocking because who hasn’t )
- 39% actually fell asleep during a meeting (because isn’t it meetings that doctors prescribe for insomnia?)
- 96% missed meetings (I am confident they missed a meeting because they had to attend another meeting)
What these statistics confirm is that meetings are systemic. In fact you most likley already have your meetings mapped out for the following week. It got me thinking if you had to attend so many meetings what could you do to make things better?
Here are my recommendations on how to 10x your meeting efficacy:
(caution: please use your personal judgement while implementing any recommendations below)
1. STOP booking hour long meetings
I would like to find out who came up with the rule that meetings need to be (at least) an hour long. They don’t. In fact I have observed meeting owners prolong discussions just to meet the 1 hour mark. If you are guilty of that please stop. It’s ludicrous.
My recommendation: Have a well timed agenda. Respect the time limits. Establish a meeting owner (even if it is yourself). Don’t be afraid to shorten meetings times. Ask yourself – “Can I do this without a meeting?.” Try a 30 minute meeting next time.
2. STOP asking too many questions
I’ll be the first to admit that I am guilty of this. I ask a lot of questions. Every meeting has a few inquisitive minds in attendance. Don’t get me wrong thought provoking questions can liven up a meeting. But questions need answers which need further questions. This, if not controlled, could turn a 15 minute meeting into a 3 hour meeting. Remember questions also alienate the day dreamers and encourage the sleepers.
My recommendations: Diarize all questions. Ask only relevant questions that would benefit the group. Save all other questions for later. Document and circulate the answers.
3. STOP day dreaming (didn’t you read the statistic?)
We have all done this. Yes even you the one shaking your heading in ignorance. Remember when Bob was presenting his slide on how the sales figures grew year on year while the…(….oooh those doughnuts I had this morning were awesome. I want a doughnut now or maybe just a coffee..) …gross margins have been declining. The sad truth is that we don’t go engaged to meetings. I have also noticed that the likelihood of daydreaming is directly proportional to the time of day the meeting occurs. Getting into a (1 hour) 7 pm meeting? Bring on the doughnuts!
My recommendation: Try and set meetings for earlier in the day. Have everyone come prepared to contribute to a meeting. Set rules for personal technology use during the meeting duration. Put people on the spot. Kick them out if they don’t respond (Ok. Don’t do this. Be nice.).
4. STOP being ill-prepared
People make a habit of this. After all there are only so many hours in a day and so much to do within those hours. Preparing for a meeting almost never happens. I have observed that effective meetings have well prepared participants. You can help the meeting outcomes if you go into it well prepared.
My recommendation: At least read the meeting agenda. If there isn’t one request or create one. Outline what you would like to do to make this meeting worthwhile for you. Make notes beforehand against agenda items.
5. STOP having everyone attend an entire meeting
Think about the number of times you were in a meeting that you didn’t need to attend. Does that frustrate you? Now think about the meetings you have run. There were most likely a few people who didn’t need to be at those meetings. People also tend to go mob handed to customer locations. Ever been in a situation where three of you show up to meeting with one person at the client’s location? Need I explain more?
My recommendations: Stick to including only necessary people in meetings. Eric Schmidt (executive chairman of Alphabet Inc.) advises not to include more than 8 people. Listen at least to him if not to me. If an attendee is only required for a part of the meeting let her leave when that part is completed.
At the end of the day we could all write books about how meetings need to change. Instead I urge you to implement at least one of the above mentioned recommendations. I guarantee that it would help bring you one step closer to “meeting” nirvana (..and those doughnuts).
Now go forth. Conquer your next meeting.