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Aug 27, 2013

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How to Save Time Boosting Meetings Productivity

Meetings are the backbone of an agile business. However, they can be the source of higher cost to the company in terms of time and resources.
How to Save Time Boosting Meetings Productivity
  Meetings are a valuable method of communicating and gathering important feedback, and are an essential part of conducting business. Unfortunately, for many organizations, numerous meetings held by their employees and managers are not necessary. Meetings are often carried out without a clear purpose, hence they generate no value to the team. Moreover, they are held frequently and last too long to be productive. Thus, their assistants are wasting time they could spend better getting their own work done.

  It is curious that the main reasons why people love meetings are not related to business. For example: meetings are great for people's egos; they make people feel influential, especially if their superiors are going as well. Reason why for some people being invited its more important than the meeting itself. Meetings break up the daily routine, as they offer employees, a company approved opportunity to socialize during working hours. They allow its attendants to take a break from their office/cubicle/work space, and sometimes, to enjoy some free food. Furthermore, if you need to report billable hours, time spent in meetings is easily transferable to time sheets.

How to Boost Meetings Productivity

Hold a meeting only if necessary. Before calling a meeting Michael Crozer suggests asking the following questions:
  • Is this meeting really necessary? 
  • Would a simple phone call or email suffice? 
  • Could the matter be handled at another meeting, like a weekly team meeting? 
  • Will a brief conference call work the same or better than a meeting? 
  • For larger or remote groups, is video or web conferencing an option?
Crozer says, "Conference calls take up far less time than face-to-face meetings. There's also the option of video and web conferencing. These save time, money spent on refreshments and transportation. They also give staff the ability to "multi-task" and do other things while they sit in their office on the speaker-phone."
Limit The Number of Attendees. Invite only the essential people, if you believe someone need to be aware of the results of the meeting send them a copy of the recapitulation you sent to the attendees. Limiting the number of meeting attendees makes meeting management easier and saves time, money and greatly increases productivity.

Create a standing agenda of the topics that will be covered and send it with the invitation. Allot time for each agenda item and especially for presentations.

Define the objective of the meeting. When the meeting starts, make sure that everyone understands what is the objective of the meeting. This practice will allow you to ensure that everyone is on the same page and focused on keeping the meeting on point. In order to spark creativity, try framing the purpose of the meeting as a question. When people get the invitation, they will start trying to answer the question.

Related Post: Are You S.M.A.R.T When Setting Goals?

Let everyone familiarize with the information in advance. Send at least 24 hours before the meeting all materials that will be used (presentations, files, documents, etc.). I suggest hosting all data in a folder on the company's server so that everyone involved can access all material at anytime. Then before starting the meeting provide 5 -10 minutes for everyone to review the information (Even when you send it in advance not everyone will read it). This eliminates obvious and time consuming questions, people presenting information and fosters meaningful debate.

Ask someone to take notes.

Keep track of the time and manage the “long-winded talkers." Designate a timekeeper who occasionally reminds people how much time is left for each agenda item. Furthermore, watch out for those who tend to talk for long periods, if the debate becomes redundant find a time while they are speaking to interject and summarize what they have said and ask if others have something to add.

Related Post: Time Management Tips

End the meeting by summarizing key conclusions, action items, and points of accountability for delivering on next steps.

Related Post: How To Make Better Decisions, Faster