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Are Your Meetings a Waste of Time? How to Make the Most of Your Meetings

In business, meetings have their virtues. This is where important information is shared, issues are broken down, and team bonding can develop. On the other hand, they can sometimes take up too much company time. When this is the case - when unnecessary meetings are commonplace - you'll see people's affect change. If it goes on for too long, these folks might start questioning the company and decide to move on to greener, or at least more logistically pleasing, pastures.

When Meetings Are Necessary

Some experts believe employees should not spend more than 20 percent of their work time in meetings. Likewise, a recent survey from a North Carolina psychologist revealed that more than 600 employees from various industries believed that approximately a third of the meetings they are forced to attend are unnecessary.

One of the best tips for setting up a meeting is to figure out who should be involved. Regardless of the industry, there may be times when one-on-one engagements or small group meetings should take the place of large-scale meetings.

Sometimes, correspondence can easily take the place of a meeting, and it can help when more than one brain is involved in the decision-making. If details come in that apply to your sales force, you might have a brief tete-a-tete with your sales manager, in which you decide whether a team meeting is warranted.

Education is a field that is renowned for meetings that eat into teachers' precious time. However, when the orders come down from the top, there's only so much they can do besides show up. Usually, you'll find teachers in these meetings multitasking on their laptops while they receive information that may have been forwarded to them in an email. Over time, it isn't uncommon for a wedge between administration and faculty due to such things.

When Meetings Should Be Avoided

Michael Scott, from the hit television show 'The Office,' was notorious for having gratuitous meetings for the slightest and most whimsical reasons. Without fail, these meetings caused interruptions to people's workflow and contributed to a low-energy scenario. When people are embedded in the details of their daily work, it stands to reason that they don't want to be interrupted. It also shows that this could be corrosive to the overall office mood. Meetings should be avoided when they affect productive working conditions unless they are essential. The question for you is, 'what makes for an essential meeting?'

When you set up productive meetings, you've already decided that these shouldn't be avoided. Consider the reasons for having meetings below and ask yourself, do my meetings fit beneath this umbrella?'

Legitimately recognized reasons for meetings include:

  • To brainstorm ideas

  • For providing updates on a project's status

  • For solving organizational or logistical challenges

  • For sharing important company information

  • To celebrate something related to the company

Tips for Structuring Meetings for Best Results

When you're looking to make the most of meetings, the proper structure is essential, though this is not to say there's a one-size-fits-all solution. For example, research shows that the best time to have meetings is mid-morning, between 10 am and 12 pm, regardless of industry. Meetings held later in the day risk bringing together folks who are more easily distracted and tired even though the logic is sound (that people and conditions are most appropriate and conducive to meet in the morning), which might not work for your particular scenario.

There are two elements that all meetings should include: pre-planning and an agenda. Whatever the meeting is, let people know, through email, what they are expected to show up with. This could mean studying, presenting, or being ready to receive new information. When you do this, you're turning their attention toward the meeting ahead of time. Once the meeting begins, open by showing everybody the agenda, so they know what will happen and when.

Icebreakers are often used to open meetings, which can be done quickly and efficiently. They might tap into the information that will be covered, or they may be for fun. You may open by asking people to share a great weekend moment or comment on why they suppose sales are up (or down) this quarter.

When your calendar shows half of your team's schedule is blocked off for meetings, consider whether it is the best use of its time. This means re-evaluating the reasons for the meetings with an eye on efficiency. Often, the things presented to team members during meetings can be presented through other means, like emails or texts. This could boost morale, as well as improve office efficiency. Visit a project management website to learn more about resources for managing your team's work and projects from anywhere.


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