You wake up well rested and ready to tackle your day. You open up your work calendar to see what’s on your plate and you see back-to-back meetings the entire day. Will you have time to eat? Screw that, will you even have time to pee? One thing’s for sure: You certainly won’t have time to get any actual work done!
Workplace meetings have gotten out of control. Much like how your adorable kid transformed into a hormone-fueled monster once the teen years hit, meetings have changed from pleasant and productive to downright excruciating. Of course, some gatherings are essential, but American white collar culture has somehow taken the innocent meeting and turned it into a time-inflated money-suck that provides little overall value on the individual or company level.
The statistics are no laughing matter:
- There are 25 million meetings per day in the United States
- More than $37 billion per year is spent on unproductive meetings
- $338 is the average salary cost per meeting (this skyrockets when high-paid business leaders attend)
- Approximately 50 percent of meeting time is wasted
Meetings have become so prevalent yet redundant that people no longer take them seriously. Over 70 percent of people bring other work to meetings and 39 percent admit to dozing off. Apparently when you’re at a meeting you are either doing other work or taking a snooze. What you aren’t doing is having a productive meeting.
What can we do to reclaim meetings and make them what they should be? Here are five easy ideas for productive meetings. Really ask yourself if you’re doing these, and if not, try a fresh approach next time.
Consider not having a meeting: That’s right! The first step of productive meetings is to decide if one is really necessary. First define the goal. If a meeting isn’t necessary to achieve that goal, then no need to send out an invite.
Invite only those necessary: Meetings are wasted time when too many or too few people attend. If you need to make a decision, but the manager necessary to give sign-off isn’t there, the meeting is a failure. Likewise, a decision that only requires insight from three people should be attended by three people, not the entire department of 20.
Set an agenda: Create an agenda before the meeting starts. What’s more, email it to attendees or print it out to share at the meeting. That way everyone can stick to the plan and stay on topic.
Table off-topics: Some off-topic discussions are valuable, but just need to be shelved for a different time. If someone gets off topic, consider respectfully turning the conversation back to the agenda and goal at hand, and writing down the ideas to address at a later time.
Follow up the right way: A meeting isn’t over when the time is up. Often there are numerous to-do’s that emerge. You may want to send out a recap and list who’s responsible for next steps. Otherwise you might end up in a follow-up meeting discussing the exact same thing as last time.
Do you have any thoughts on the modern meeting? Please vent your hatred and share your tips for streamlining the meeting mess.