Whether virtual or in person, we’re spending our work lives in meetings that aren’t working. Research shows that 67% of meetings are ‘failures’, and have lost their primary reason–getting things done.
Where have our meetings gone wrong? Over time, the amount of time spent in meetings and number of meetings held has increased significantly. Daily, upwards of 11 million meetings are held in American businesses, averaging a time frame of 31-60 minutes. These longer meetings have led to a 10% increase in the time employees spend in meetings since 2000.
Changing work environments are a substantial factor:
- Open and shared workspaces create a challenge in finding meeting space that is quiet and non-disruptive. Solution: Designate small, collaborative, private spaces for meetings to take place.
- Remote and virtual teams have lower meeting engagement. Solution: Use video conferencing for a more “face-to-face” feel and use visuals where possible.
- Tech-centric environments promote multitasking, disrupting attention and focus during meetings. Solution: Eliminate unnecessary distractions in meetings – no phones, no email, and no other work.
Meetings are necessary, but there’s a lot we can do to improve their effectiveness. First, improve your overall communications—not everything requires a meeting. Start with these internal communication strategies.
Use the 5 tips below to improve your internal meetings; then apply them to customer communications.
5 Ways to Make Meetings More Effective and More Enjoyable
1. Put in the prep work
Today’s meetings lack structure and planning. Start with an agenda, distributed 24-48 hours ahead. This gives your meeting structure and a path to follow, yet 63% of meetings happen without one.
Clarify decisions or items that are needed prior to the meeting. If you don’t have what you need to move forward, cancel the meeting.
Preparing for a meeting also means being ready to go live at the scheduled time. Set 10 minutes beforehand to avoid the time wasted getting settled, fumbling with video equipment, or rounding up meeting participants.
The more clearly you set meeting expectations ahead of time – in meetings and in the workplace, the more effective your internal communications will be.
2. Keep it short
At some point, the one hour meeting became the default. Attention spans and fully booked calendars suggest otherwise. Schedule short, single-focus meetings. This avoids the trap of filling the available time with lesser priorities.
Consider if a scheduled meeting is even necessary. Could you get the answers you need just by calling someone and talking for three minutes? If the answer is yes, start dialing.
Pro Tip: Use the ‘short meetings’ setting in your calendar to keep meetings under 30 and 60 minutes. Also consider booking meetings at odd times, such as 3:08pm like Stever Robbins suggests. It stands out in participants’ minds and gives you a few minutes in between meetings.Our daily huddle starts at 9:35 to encourage an on-time start.
3. Meet meeting expectations
No one feels good leaving an unproductive meeting. When you set expectations for a meeting, deliver on them. Your meetings will be far more productive and valuable.
One of the biggest expectations that meetings miss is sticking to the scheduled time frame. Starting and ending on time shows respect for others’ time.
4. Push for decision making
Meetings should drive progress. If your meeting is going down an unproductive path, take initiative to stop the meeting and suggest a regroup. This eliminates wasted time and meeting redundancy.
Conclusive, actionable results give your meeting purpose and give participants a sense of accomplishment. One of the biggest complaints about meetings is their inconclusive, unproductive nature. Know exactly what you need to walk out of a meeting with in order to move forward. Push for clarity on those items, even if the clarity is that others need to take care of other action items first.
Clear decision making is especially important to product launches. Download our Communication Guide for tips to keep your next product launch on track.
5. Follow up with detailed to-do’s
Most people do not take notes or keep track of the items they have been assigned during a meeting. Follow up each meeting with clear communication of meeting outcomes, tasks owners, deadlines, and the next steps.
This promotes better internal communications on projects, keeps individuals informed of project progress and helps better manage goals and metrics.
At Launch Team, we are committed to our meetings being the best clients have all month. To that end, we promise:
- Agenda sent it advance
- Metrics for a consistent reporting rhythm
- Wrap up email with action items
- 20 or 30 minutes, unless we need to cover something more in-depth as a full group
- Start on time; end on time
- Link in the invitation for video and/or screen sharing
- A clear path forward, with typically more on our to-do list than theirs