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Increase Your Meeting Productivity Today

There are few things more frustrating than ineffective meetings. You can often find yourself stuck in a room, talking about things for the twentieth time and wishing that the torture would end so that you can get on with your work.

However, if we recognise that meetings are crucial, then frustrations with the status quo can also be the catalyst for improvement. Having effective meetings is an acquired skill and not accidental. Staff must be trained to make meetings work, so their effectiveness outweighs the resources employed.

Peter F. Drucker stated these meeting truisms. In his view, most meetings are:

  • boring
  • lacking in clear-cut objectives
  • without any meaningful structure.

Worse still, Drucker noted that staff left meetings in the state of harmony and good feeling but without any sense of direction or programme of action. This a damning finding as it asserts that people would feel a meeting was good, even if was totally ineffectual.

Planned but Forgotten?

One major issue is the amount of time taken in meetings making spending decisions, but without further allocation of time in subsequent meetings to cover what happens after investment has occurred, or when the investment has been rolled out.

Can a business know whether an investment was 'good' if there is no focus on the results of the investment?

In many companies there is no structured way of reporting and measuring actual performance of new ventures. If a new high-profile investment is squandered, then it doesn't take a meeting to tell everyone about it, but for most spending decisions, even with meeting overload, not enough time is spent evaluating R.O.I.

Too Many Meetings Means You're Inefficient

If you are having too many meetings, or they run for too long, it is likely that you're operating inefficiently. Watch out for these key indicators:

  • Are you spending over 25% of your time in meetings? If so, then you are spending too much of your working day in them and you will not be operating productively
  • Are your meetings 'overpopulated'? Most meetings should be up to five apart from the occasional group meeting, company announcement or presentation. If your meetings often number more than five staff, and sometimes leak into double figures, your meetings are too large to be efficient.
  • Are your meeting extraneous? When you are in a meeting, do you often look around and question why some people, or even yourself, are sitting there.
  • Are your meetings too long? Regular weekly meetings should aim to be half an hour long, monthly an hour long. More than this? Either it's a board meeting, or it will be a bored meeting!

Meetings are an example of corporate inefficiency. They're there to replace deficiencies in internal communications and decision-making, Whilst essential, you can still focus on reducing quantity and time to boost business performance.

Efficiency Tips For You...

  1. Who 'Owns' the Meeting? Meetings need to be purposeful. It's not just about discussion, but direction and delegation. If no-one is responsible for the meeting, as well as action points and follow through, then they will not be productive.
  2. Who Comes to the Meeting? Manage attendees, only invite those you have to.
  3. Who Times the Meeting? The meeting manager should keep the meeting on track: restrict small-talk, focus on the agenda and restrain talkative staff.
  4. Empower Decision Making. Decision-makers often seek, or re-seek, agreement and affirmation through meetings. For bigger decisions, this is crucial. For day-to-day actions this can be criminal.
  5. Split Meetings Where Needed. If you find meetings are getting too large, then perhaps it's time to consider splitting them. Either organise two meetings, or better still flow one into another and allow staff members to leave or join where appropriate. Meeting and staff time will reduce substantially.
  6. Focus on Opportunities. if your meetings are all about fire-fighting, then you can be sure that your organisation is merely chasing its tail. Problems, particularly substantial ones, need fuller discussion. The big picture should be: 'where is this person, this group, this department, this company going? How can we get there?''

Many successful organizations now have two types of meetings... one to focus on problems and another to focus on opportunities.This ensures dedicated, uninterrupted collaborative time concentrated on making sure that your organisation is facing forwards for the foreseeable future.

And that leads to a healthier, more productive, business.

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