It’s not that you don’t know what the meeting’s about (usually), or who planned it, but it just feels so… wasteful. A quick googling of "Are meetings wasteful" would tell you you’re not alone in feeling this way.
So when the time comes, and there’s no way out of it, here’s how you can make sure you’re making the most of your time with the team.
Set The Agenda
Before a single person sets foot in the room, they should know:
- Why they’re there
- What is going to be discussed
- What their role is in the meeting
It doesn’t take more than a quick email or Slack message for you to set the tone for everyone. As a corporate citizen, this is an incredible courtesy that gives everyone an expectation not only for how long the discussion will last, but also how they can stay focused on the most important thing--and equally importantly, it sends the message that certain things won’t be on the table at all.
Be Ruthless About Time
You’re not the only one sitting in that room who has a full plate of things to do. They say the golden rule is "treat others how you would want to be treated," so how wonderful would it be for someone to tell you a conversation will last for 10 minutes, and at 10 minutes it actually ends?
Strive to be that person in your meetings. The greatest gift you can give to your team is transparency. And when you build a rapport where they know 10 minutes means 10 minutes, you’re not just being nice: you’re building trust.
Stay Standing. Seriously.
This may just sound like that "one weird trick," but getting people to stand during meetings actually makes the meetings shorter. In fact, for Neal Taparia, Co-CEO of Imagine Easy Solutions, standing during meetings cut down the average time by 25%.
In his article for Forbes, Neal explains that standing eliminated some of the common distractions we face when we have an open laptop, and gave his employees a shared sense of purpose to move the meeting along.
If you can keep everyone focused on one centralized goal, it’s naturally going to help everyone to stay engaged--and that’s a surefire recipe for a more productive discussion.
When In Doubt, Don’t
Sometimes, a meeting just sounds like the right thing to do--right? Amy Levin-Epstein of CBS’s Moneywatch says the dirty secret about meetings is that they "become the default stalling tactic for important decisions. One meeting turns into many meetings. And the person calling the meetings looks productive while doing it. It's the perfect crime!"
If you don’t absolutely need the meeting, just don’t have it. It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking you’re being productive by holding a meeting. But at the end of the day, you’re killing minutes that you could be spending on new projects, tracking down new clients, or just making the damn decision yourself!
It’s OK to say it: meetings are often a waste of time. So if you’re going to bother to have one, make sure you do it the right way, and make it efficient and productive for everyone.