1. What makes meetings effective?
According to research presented in Forbes, the average employee spends about 62 hours in meetings every month. A collaborative study carried out by America Online and Salary.com showed that the average American worker was left with only three days per week to focus on their desk work. The rest of the working time was spent in meetings.
Given all of this, it isn't strange that many of us have a lot of feelings and opinions on the subject of meetings. So how did we get here? And how do we stop this meeting excess?
It's the quality, or lack off, that matters!
Having a lot of meetings isn’t all bad. Meetings are at the center of all organizations and we need them to discuss important issues and decide on how to move our business forward. Efficient meetings never annoyed anyone, right? What stirs up emotions aren’t the meetings themselves, but rather the poor quality of many of the meetings that we attend. A lot of meetings seem to be redundant or highly inefficient.
An unclear purpose
The study referred to above also showed that 50% of all meetings lack a clear purpose and goal. So how can you really tell that you achieved what you were set out to achieve with the meeting?
Every meeting ever created should start with declaring why it exists. Even better, if you tell the participants in advance by giving them a clear agenda. That way they know what to expect and what to prepare for.
Is this meeting even for me?
Furthermore, 33% of all meeting participants feel that they don't even have to be there. That’s one third of participants that could have spent their time doing something else. Luckily, following the first rule of a great meeting; a clear purpose and goal, participants will be able to tell in advance if the meeting is relevant for them to attend.
What was said? And who's doing what?
If the purpose is clear and a goal has been set, the last trait of an inefficient meeting is the "what did we actually decide" issue? If nothing happens after the meeting, was there even a meeting? Documenting decisions and actions is essential for the follow up, and thus, the success of the meeting. Make sure everyone know who's doing what, and when.