We all know ‘that’ feeling when we’re faced with a full day of meetings. I spend so much of my time scheduling, rearranging, cancelling and attending meetings that sometimes I wonder how anyone gets anything done! It’s almost like many of us are ‘addicted’ to them.
Of course, I fully understand that many of these are important and necessary. I also know from my experience in corporate life and in running blueumbrella, that a vast proportion of these are not needed.
I recently read a survey which showed the average worker spends 16 hours a week(!) in meetings. That’s over a month a year stuck in meetings. A month! The cost of having so many meetings is also astonishing, according to research from Epson and the Center for Economics and Business Research meetings are costing the UK economy £26 billion.
One of my fantastic clients is operating at full capacity and has started struggling to fit everything into their day. We undertook an analysis of their diary and found over 40 regularly scheduled monthly meetings. We identified that many of these meetings did not require their attendance. Often they could be done remotely, by email or even by another representative from the team. Consequently, we have managed to halve the amount of meetings they have to attend which has proved liberating for our client!
We also looked at how to make the remaining meetings more effective and efficient. Here’s what we outlined to help make meetings matter:
- Set clear objectives. What do you hope to achieve from the meeting? If your goal is simply to disseminate information, an email may be a better, more efficient approach.
- Create an agenda and send it in advance. Productive meetings require structure and planning.
- Invite the right people. Who do you need to attend to achieve the meetings purpose?
- Start and end on time. No one ever complained because a meeting ended on time!
- Follow up - and follow through. When the meeting is over, the follow-up begins.
We also discussed a couple of other areas to make meetings better. There is a growing trend to hold either walking or standing meetings to ensure they do not last too long. Another idea was to ban all technology! We think this would stop many unnecessary distractions. Most importantly though, we agreed the quality of drinks and snacks needs to be better!
If you have any tips or tricks on how to run effective meetings we’d love to hear from you.
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