We’ve all been there-stuck on another conference call or in a meeting that seems to have lost focus. How much time do we spend in meetings or on calls that are not accomplishing what they are set up to do? Studies show a typical employee spends 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings. That is a lot of wasted time, too much. Whether you are leading a team meeting or are a participant, we can all contribute to improving how we spend time in meetings and make them as productive as possible.
Have an agenda
Write and distribute an agenda in advance of the meeting. Everyone involved should be on the same page and prepared for what is going to be discussed.
Keep an eye on the clock
Meetings will go on and on if you are not sticking to the established timeframe. If the meeting is scheduled for 30 minutes, make it 30 minutes or less. Do not let points linger on; discuss, find a resolution and move on.
Send things to the parking lot
We have all used the parking lot method, right? Things come up in the meeting that are important, but not part of the meeting’s agenda. When that happens, record it and put it in the “parking lot” to be addressed in the next meeting. Do not let it take up time in that meeting.
Ensure participants participate
Do your meetings have other participants reporting out on specific topics? Make it clear that participants have an active role in the meeting. When it is their turn to report or discuss an agenda item, ensure they are prepared to lead the meeting during that section of the agenda.
Make follow-up a regular thing
A successful meeting always has action items and follow-ups. Task the follow-up to a team member to follow-up on action items and ensure they are not lost in between meetings. Reach out the same day with a list of action items that came out of the meeting so that everyone knows the take-aways and who is responsible for them.
Your time and the time of your team is valuable-treat it that way. Meetings are important times to collaborate and gain and share information. Keep them focused and make the best use of everyone’s time. Whether you are leading a team meeting or participating, your role is important. We can all have an impact on improving how we interact in meetings, ensuring increased productivity and collaboration.