A Microsoft study found that people spend an average of 5.6 hours in a week in meetings. And for managers, this time is often double or even triple. And 69% of these people felt that the time spent in meetings is unproductive.
Another study found that 39% of people admitted dozing off in meetings, and 70% have brought other work to meetings.
An article by Bain & Company reported that executives/managers spend more than two days in their working week preparing for meetings.
A majority of workers today find meetings a waste of their time. However, they are unavoidable when working in a team. You definitely can’t find a way around it but you can surely adapt ways that make them highly efficient and productive.
The three meeting checkpoints
Every meeting follows a certain pattern. And there are certain checkpoints where you should analyse how things are going before moving forward.
#1 – The Memo
Imagine being invited to a party where you do not know who’s coming, what’s the occasion, or where’s the venue. You’ll be confused most of your time.
Similarly, when team members are invited to a meeting, they should get the meeting memo that includes the agenda, team members involved, resources, and other details. A meeting memo ensures that everyone in the meeting room is on the same page before the meeting begins.
It is also ideal to start a meeting 5 minutes before the scheduled time. It just gives everyone some time to settle in and take a breath.
#2 – The in between
A lot happens during the meeting. From brainstorming to noting down each idea and opinion – it can be a lot. So it’s always best that you have a process in place to keep things on track.
There’s always a lot to note down during a meeting so the first thing to focus on is how you handle meeting minutes. Remember it should be easy, quick, and easily accessible for everyone.
Typically, a team member or the manager notes everything down and then sends an email to all or each team member with the details. Then they delegate tasks based on these details. This is a process followed by most teams today. But it is very time consuming and ineffective.
Adapting to technology and tools that enable you to have more efficient meetings is also a great way to enhance productivity. At 1team.ai, we use the MoM feature to note down our meeting minutes. It allows us to create a task, assign a user, and save notes in one go!
#3 – The beginning of the end
You should always keep the last 15-20 minutes of your meeting aside to conclude everything and delegate tasks. This is especially important for meetings that are longer than 45 minutes. Keep some time aside to sum things up, and ensure that everyone is leaving the meeting on the same page.
Don’t forget to plan what’s next. And when your next meeting should ideally be.
Bonus: Quick tips to save time during meetings
The shorter, the better.
Assign time to each point in your agenda and strictly stick to your schedule. This will ensure that you efficiently go through things and do not waste time.
Ideally, shorter meetings are better because people generally have a shorter attention span. They are likely to grasp more information in a 15 min meeting than a 2 hour meeting.
When you assign time to each agenda item, ensure that you appropriately fix the time required by each point. The catch is to assign proper time so you don’t have to rush through things when trying to adhere to a schedule.
It is important to plan your meeting schedule right or you might miss out on some good ideas.
Invite fewer than 8 people.
Robert Sutton, a professor of organisational behaviour at Stanford University, found that big teams suck. Based on research he concluded that meetings will be more productive if they include 5-8 people.
Sutton writes that “larger teams often place overwhelming ‘cognitive load’ on individual members. Most of us can mesh your efforts with and maintain good personal relationships with, say, three or four teammates.”
Call on people by their name.
Instead of asking questions of taking suggestions from a group, invite individuals into the conversation to keep them engaged. It is common for team members to lose interest during meetings so this can be a great way of setting them up for success and creating an innovative culture.