Meetings are the single biggest waste of time and payroll. Period.
It’s estimated that employees waste on average 31 hours per month in unnecessary meetings. Imagine what you could be doing with that time instead of sitting in meetings that provide zero benefit to realizing your – or even more distressful, the organization’s – goals.
A recent survey of 6,500 people across the US, UK, and Germany found that among the 19 million meetings observed, the ineffective meetings cost up to $399 billion in the US and $58 billion in the UK. In total, that’s more money wasted on meetings than the GDPs of Hong Kong, Iceland, and Cyprus combined.
In fact, so many meetings are considered unnecessary that 91 percent of attendees admit to daydreaming and 73 percent admit to multitasking during meetings – both of which increase the wastefulness of already unproductive meetings.
And yet, here we are spending large chunks of our workday in meetings that do nothing to increase revenue, impact market share, or move the needle on any number of organizational goals.
But you can stop the cycle of sitting through one long, unnecessary meeting after another by following these simple tips – and then passing them along to your colleagues.
8 Tips for Shorter Meetings
- Stop scheduling meetings for 1 hour. Just stop. Meetings are known to last for as long as they are scheduled even if they don’t need to. You will be amazed at how time-boxing your meetings into shorter durations will amplify the creativity and focus of meeting participants.
- Reset your calendar default to 15-minute intervals. Stop automatically scheduling one hour or even 30-minute long meetings by removing the option. Instructions on changing Outlook’s default calendar option can be found here.
- Start meetings promptly regardless of who is present. Stick to this rule and attendees will learn not to be late. Insist that meetings start on time and that meeting discussions occurring prior to the straggler(s) arrival will not be reviewed. It may seem harsh, but others will jump on board as soon as they see how much time it saves.
- Set a clear goal and agenda for each meeting. Is the purpose of the meeting to brainstorm ideas? Discuss the project status? Finalize event details? Be sure to set a clear goal and expectations for what will happen during the meeting. Provide an agenda so everyone is on the same page from the get-go. And…
- Give pre-work. Don’t waste the first few minutes of your meeting reviewing background. Send this information out prior and make clear you expect the discussion to move forward from there.
- Invite fewer people. Your meetings should only include people necessary to move a project forward – subject matter experts, cross-functional stakeholders, and project leads. Do not invite anyone who would not be an active participant. If someone is only there to listen, send them notes after the meeting instead of including them in the meeting invite. When in doubt, exercise Amazon’s Two Pizza Rule to keep your meetings to a size that is productive and effective.
- Simplify your technology. Want to save hours of time every year? IT/technology departments should focus on making it easy for workers to get meetings started quickly. Though there are several reasons meetings can start late, having meeting space technology that is easy for workers to launch and use can be a big help. With the increase in hybrid meetings, the ability to start meetings quickly and seamlessly connect onsite and remote attendees has become even more important. Implement conferencing and collaboration technology that provides the same intuitive workflow and easy one-step start across all of your meeting spaces so workers can connect quickly and get down to business.
- Make it easy for attendees to participate and share. The most effective meetings are not presentations, but collaborations where people share thoughts and discuss ideas. If participants are not sharing, then they’re not engaged – which means your meeting time is being wasted. Several wireless collaboration products, including Mersive Solstice, make sharing content on a screen as easy as throwing a piece of paper on a table.
BONUS: By shortening the length of your meetings, you’ve given yourself the opportunity to experience more ad hoc collaborations. We’ve found these off-the-cuff collaborations can produce greater innovation and productivity than scheduled meetings.
Looking for more meeting resources? See below!