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Do your meetings feel like a waste of time?

Based on a recent study by Asana, they might be. The report, based on a survey of nearly 10,000 participants, found that:

  • Work about work (i.e. meetings) takes up 58% of the workday
  • Skilled work takes up 33% of the work day
  • Strategic work takes up 9%

This suggests a key problem in the modern business world—managers are getting in the way of actual work being done. While an efficient and justified meeting can be an invaluable use of company time, it’s easy to take it too far. 

That’s why you should be thinking about what your meetings are for in the first place…

Are Meetings How You Communicate?

It’s often the case that owners, managers and supervisors call meetings in order to communicate with everyone on the team in one place all at once. While this is the most direct way to go about it, it still may not be the best use of everyone’s time.

This is why you should establish a policy for when and how communication should take place, and make sure that everyone follows it. This will help to ensure that everyone is kept up to date with what is happening.

Our advice is to develop a culture of communication that is both ubiquitous and brief. This has the two-pronged benefit of ensuring regular communication is encouraged, without wasting anyone’s time in the process of drafting long emails or sitting through long meetings. 

Consider the following benchmarks:

  • Direct messages should be as short as possible (one-word responses aren’t rude—they’re efficient).
  • Emails should be 2-3 sentences.
  • Phone calls should be <5 minutes.
  • Meetings should be as short as possible, so long as they cover the agenda and achieve their goal.

What Are Your Meetings Supposed To Accomplish?

Meetings are such an expected part of the modern business world that it can easily overlook their actual purpose. 

When things get out of control or interpersonal communication isn’t where you think it should be, it can be easy to assume the only course of action is to hold a meeting. But is that really the case?

Calling a meeting as a reflex action doesn’t mean it’ll be a worthwhile use of your and your team’s time. Remember, a meeting commands a lot of your business’ operating capital—as much as every present staff member’s hourly wage for as long as the meeting takes. 

That’s why you have to be intentional and methodical with how you schedule and facilitate meetings. Doing so will ensure you’re only scheduling meetings that need to take place, and when you do, they’ll be effective and productive. That’s exactly what the following five tips will help you achieve. 

5 Tips To Make Your Meetings Meaningful

Set A Cadence

If you don’t have a regular meeting cadence, set one. For example, an active team should meet regularly—we suggest once a week. This will allow you to group many of your conversations into one meeting.

Effective cadence will have the following five characteristics:

  1. Same day (of every week or every other week)
  2. Same time
  3. Same agenda
  4. Start at the same time
  5. End at the same time

No Politicking Or Tangents

Meetings need to stay on track. If someone starts a tangent or begins repeating themself (i.e. “politicking”), everyone should feel comfortable calling it out. 

This feedback doesn’t have to be rude or hostile; ensure your team can rely on one another to uphold the agenda and ensure the meeting is as brief and productive as possible. 

Be Accountable

Your meeting must be based on accountability. Yes, everyone should have to say “Done” or “Not Done.” Or “On Track” or “Off Track.” No room for excuses. Eventually, people will get the memo that things need to get done.

Manage Time

Late arrivals can cause meetings to get off on a rocky start. Get your people in the habit of showing up five minutes early and always end the meeting on time. Time flies when you’re having fun, but it drags by when everyone is bored silly. So, put together an interesting agenda for each meeting, and then start and end on time. 

Adjust meeting lengths so that you don’t have 20 minutes where nothing happens. Try to be flexible with meeting lengths. You may have a week where there’s lots to discuss and other times where there’s almost nothing to talk about. Don’t force people to sit for 30 minutes in a meeting when there’s really nothing to say or do. 

Don’t forget: getting out early always perks everyone up.

Get Everyone Involved

Many meeting goers just sit quietly during the whole time and say almost nothing. How can you get everyone involved so that the meeting is a big success? Make sure that those present actually have a purpose there. If they don’t, let them go and focus on their work.

Don’t Let Meetings Get In The Way Of Productivity

Putting together an effective meeting week in and week out can be challenging. The key is to not overthink or overdo it. 

When your meetings are justified, efficient and interesting, people will get involved and you’ll notice that the meetings are making a positive impact on everyone. Try to remind your employees that weekly meetings are meant to help them grow as people and as employees. 

If your company isn’t benefiting from weekly meetings, then they’re a waste of time and resources—don’t bother with them any longer.

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