A few quick thoughts on meetings, the waste they can create, and how you might begin to reduce it:
I see and have participated in the wasting of countless hours in meetings, in fact, I have come to the conclusion that some organizations focus more on making meetings than they do on making their products. Dilbert has famously incorporated this in to his strip for years.
Below are five quick ideas that if practiced can put the meeting monster on a diet.
1. If you are there be present.... Wondering minds waste time. Stay focused or stay in the break room.
2. Start all meetings on the hour and end them at 45 minutes after the hour. If you are booked in back to back meetings that both began and end on the hour then you cannot possibly be on time without a telepresence machine. The fifteen minutes between meetings gives you the time to grab a coffee and walk to the next meeting location and no one will be setting unproductive waiting on you to arrive.
3. Do you really need to be there? Does the guy next to you? Many meetings are over attended. If you can provide a report and miss a meeting your productivity can not help but be higher.
4. Start on time or pay the fine. If an attendee is late then coffee and snacks is on them. I have seen all kinds of twist on this one and if it is done in a jovial manner it can be very successful.
5. Have an agenda. Make sure the agenda has topics, expectations, and time limits for each subject.
6. Use the agenda. Send it out in advances with a list of all the pre-work that should be completed. The more pre-work we do the less time we have to sit in this excruciating meeting.
7. Prepare for the meeting before the meeting. Prepare is from the latin for “do it before you tie up a team of seven people while you make up answers to problems you have never thought about”
8. Phones don’t help you talk with the people in the room. They should vibrate in your pocket while you’re in the meeting. Besides, if you are so important that the caller can’t wait 45 minutes then how on earth do you sleep at night.
9. Breaks are important things that should happen at least every hour. Limit the time of the break and give the group a defined restart time. The really important people can use this time to return calls.
In the end, if you are interrupted by late arrivers or noisy cell phones, studies show that it takes almost five minutes for the team to regain focus. If you have ten attendees in the meeting that means you lose fifty minutes of team time for every interruption. What’s that worth? If you really want to know try the new free iPad app called “While We Were Meeting.” You provide it with the salary information and it help the team see the amount of money each meeting is costing and compare that to the value of the output.
Hope these begin to help with your meeting monster.