Eliciting Excellence

The 3 Biggest Meeting Mistakes

It never ceases to amaze me. Every executive I know wants to be more productive and to get more productivity from their team. And without exception, everyone feels that they would be far more effective and productive if there weren’t so many meetings. Yet no one seems to do anything about it!

One of the smartest ways to boost personal and team productivity is to address the issue of meetings and how they’re conducted. Think about it… A one hour meeting attended by eight people is equivalent to a full day (8 man hours) of time spent. That means that reducing the total time spent in meetings by just 60 minutes a day would literally save a full time person! (8 man hrs x 5 days = 40 hours/week)

Here are three of the best strategies to make your meetings and your team more productive.

1. Stop scheduling one-hour meetings

A one-hour meeting is convenient to schedule and has become the norm, but in truth, there’s no real reason for them to last that long. (I’ve even seen regular 4-hour meetings scheduled!)

Consider scheduling 15, 30 or 45 minute meetings instead. (The strategies that follow will help you accomplish this.) Additionally, one of my favorite strategies for reducing meeting time is to conduct “standing” meetings, where everyone literally stands rather than sits. Hallways are usually good venues for these. (I guarantee the meetings won’t drag on!)

2. Stop using meetings for data dumps and briefings

Think about how much of your meeting time is spent disseminating information. Chances are it’s in excess of 50% of the meeting. A much smarter way to deliver information is in written form. If you had everyone brief you (and anyone else who needs the information) in writing in advance, then the actual meeting would be devoted to discussion and/or making decisions. (This approach, of course, requires that people actually read or scan the information prior to the meeting.)

Reserving meetings strictly for discussions and decisions can easily cut most meeting times in half.

3. Stop inviting so many people

Think of how many times you have people in your meetings who don’t really need to be there. They generally don’t contribute nor do they need to contribute. They’re just there to be there. Instead, try these two strategies.

If there are people who may have information that the group may (or may not) need, simply have them be available to answer any questions that may arise. Additionally, if their presence is simply to keep them informed and to help them feel part of the team, consider summarizing the high points and outcomes of the meeting in writing and sending a copy to anyone who needs to know.

And here’s a final thought on meeting productivity… Consider how much of your time is wasted in meetings called by others and suggest they implement some of the strategies you’re starting to use in your own meetings.

Boost your productivity and that of your team by shortening meeting times, using meetings only for discussion and decisions, and limiting the number of people who are required to attend your meetings.