Spend a lot of time at meetings than actual work? Here’s how you can conduct effective meetings

“This meeting could have been an email instead”

Do you often hear this from colleagues and feel that a call or an email could have been better alternatives to elaborate meetings that consume time and resources? Unorganised meetings do tend to waste organisational resources and can be frustrating at times.

Like Jason Fried, Founder and CEO of Basecamp says, “Meetings should be like salt — a spice sprinkled carefully to enhance a dish. Too much salt destroys a dish. Too many meetings destroy morale and motivation.”

Meetings if held with a proper agenda are extremely beneficial for both the organisation and individual employees. They help organisations convey its culture, shape attitudes of employees, resolve conflicts, build teams and increase employee engagement. For individual employees, meetings are a great way to improve their communication and presentation skills. It helps enhance confidence and boosts morale by helping employees imbibe team spirit. Meetings are a great way for both management and employees to know each other and work together.

“Face-to-face interactions are one of the best ways to collaborate, given that we as humans use a lot of facial expressions and gestures while communicating with each other. Writing to someone may not convey the message the same way as talking to someone face-to-face would do. Meetings are also a great way to improve teamwork and resolve issues. However, there have been different notions about how meetings can be a waste of time, but I believe a well structured meeting serves a useful purpose while saving an incredible amount of time.” — Pooja Shirsat, Manager — Corporate Communications, Axis Bank

As you grow up the corporate ladder, you spend more and more time in meetings. Going by the statistics shared by High Five, every year since 2000, the meeting timings have increased by 10% and 73% of the people agreed to multitask during meetings in America. Yet another research by Doodle’s 2019 State of Meetings report, states that the US and UK will lose $399 billion and $58 billion respectively to poorly organised meetings. Back home in India as well, there are many companies who often fall prey to losing precious working hours to unorganised meetings.

“The most effective meetings are those that have an agenda set prior to the meeting in the form of a call or an email. Also, only invite those people who are relevant to the discussion. Having too many people who aren’t aligned to your goals is extremely counter productive as everyone will pitch in their own views and agenda without the end result of the meeting impacting them directly.”- Pooja Menon, Manager-Digital Marketing, Aditya Birla Finance Limited

But are all meetings a waste of time? Of course not! If planned well, they can help every participant to gain the most out of them. To ensure your meeting is more than just a time set on calendar, here’s what you can keep in mind:

  • Track the statistics of the time that your employees are spending in meetings versus the time spent on getting the actual work done. Basis the conclusion, only conduct the meetings that are necessary. This ensures maximum output from the held meetings.
  • To ensure that the meetings do not exceed their duration, book meeting rooms for the set time and be there on time.
  • Set an agenda for the meeting and structure it well to communicate with the participants.
  • Enter the meeting after thorough preparation and a set agenda. You can make pointers of the things you want to discuss which will save you a lot of time.
  • If your meeting requires technical support then make sure that all the arrangements are made well in advance to avoid mishaps during the meeting.
  • Be present and focused during the meetings. Avoid checking messages and emails to quicken the process of achieving the goals of the meeting.
  • If you want the participants to interact freely then conduct meetings in spaces that encourage them to open up. For example, vibrant meeting rooms in coworking spaces eases the participants more than a board room that gives more serious vibes.
  • Find innovative ways to interact during the weekly staff meetings. One can allot 10 minutes of these meetings for employees to discuss their best and the worst part of the week in these meetings. This will help them know each other better and work efficiently as a team together knowing about each other’s pain points and strengths.

And that’s not all. You can also look at following up with the participants to get feedback on the meeting. This will help you structure your future meetings well.

Meetings are a pervasive phenomenon in today’s organisations. And it is up to the management to make the best use of it with the available resources and ensure they don’t hamper work. Do scroll to the comments section below and tell us how effective your organisation’s meetings are.

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