Are meetings a total waste of time?

How often have you asked the question: “why are we having this meeting again?” You know, the meeting where you meet to discuss what was discussed at the meeting prior; where you are not even sure why the meeting is happening and when it finally ends, you are even more confused.

Meetings are essential for enabling collaboration, innovation, fostering relationships and ensuring proper information sharing. Yet, they often end up wasting the time of those attending. They interrupt productive employees, lower employee morale and consume huge amounts of personal and company time when they are excessive, poorly planned and conducted.

Research shows that meetings have increased in length and frequency over the past 50 years, to the point where executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week in them, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s; this by the way, doesn’t include all the impromptu gatherings.

Research also shows that, the bigger the meeting, the less effective it often is, and a bigger waste of time it becomes. These studies suggest that meetings with more than seven participants are less effective because it becomes too difficult to make decisions.

So, it is essential that you change the way you approach meetings in your business.

Here are some tips to make meetings effective and productive.

1. Make the purpose of the meeting clear State the purpose of the meeting in the agenda. Differentiate between idea generation meetings and decision-making ones. Separate meetings focused on long-term strategic imperatives from those focused on short-term priorities.
2. Preparation Manage the meeting time effectively by encouraging parties to be prepared so as to fully participate. Which means that each person in attendance needs to have already read the meeting materials prior to the meeting taking place. So, send the agenda and any other material for review.
3. Keep it short and simple Most meetings can be completed in an hour or an hour and a half at most if well managed. Bearing in mind that after 90 minutes, people generally stop paying attention and simply switch off.
4. Set the stage and ground rules Reiterate the purpose of the meeting and set one ground rule that is significant for your discussion. Then spend the rest of the time discussing issues, making decisions and formulating action plans.
5. Assign tasks to individuals and time lines for execution Without any significant results from your meeting, you’ve just wasted everyone’s time.

As a business owner, you can’t afford to fill every hour of your day with meetings as this leaves little room for you to deal with unanticipated developments or crisis.