5 Tips to Conduct More Effective Meetings in Less Time

 

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Meetings can be a huge time suck- and we’re not afraid to say it. In the US alone, there are 11 million formal business meetings each day and we waste an estimated $37 Billion in unnecessary meetings every year. Often it’s a nightmare just to set up a meeting in the first place. But since meetings are a necessary evil, it’s crucial that we find ways to keep life and the chaotic schedule of the outside world in sync, while also making every second count.

Here are a few practical, actionable tips to help you conduct more effective meetings in less time.

1. Cut ALL meeting times in half

Gary Vaynerchuk has the right idea: cut all meeting times in half. Think you need thirty minutes? Schedule fifteen. Fifteen? Schedule eight. “If you give someone a ten pound bag, they’re going to fill it with ten pounds of crap.” Cutting the meeting time in half will keep everyone from engaging in the typical small-talk banter and encourage the group to get down to business and execute that much faster, thus developing a list of decisions and action items instead of setting up the perceived need for yet another meeting at a later date.

2. Come in with an agenda- leave with action items

If there isn’t a very clear reason as to why you’re having a meeting, then you aren’t ready to have a meeting. Develop a list of the issues that need to be addressed prior to scheduling and you may find that they can be handled over email, or perhaps that is not as extensive as you previously thought. On the opposite end, make sure to take clear notes of finalized decisions and develop a concise list of action items to tackle going forward. This summarized list should be emailed out asap with action items broken down by who is responsible. Also, make sure to delegate someone to side table any irrelevant discussions topics that will inevitably come up during these interactions.

3. Invite as few people as possible

The founders of Basecamp (formally 37signals) have a great collections of essays that they’ve organized into a New York Times best selling book titled ReWork. They avoid meetings whenever possible, but also have some great tips for executing them effectively.

When you have eight people in a one-hour meeting, you’re actually missing out on eight hours of productivity, not just one. The more people in a meeting, the higher the risk of distraction and off topic comments and discussions.

4. Treat meetings like content

A meeting is essentially a team of people collectively building a piece of content. It’s crucial that each participants should add something (or could add something) by being physically present. Sometimes that participation is constructive (the person needs to be there to form a decision), supportive (the person is a cheerleader for the cause), social (the person is needed for group dynamics), or a variety of other reasons. The point is that by making sure that each attendee is needed, then the purpose of the meeting remains goal oriented- and steers clear of being a waste of time or resources.

Afterwards, the outcome of the meeting often needs to be passed along to others- which in turn creates a new email chain. We’re working on addressing this problem by making content sharable directly within our app, thus keeping all content generated in the meeting connected to the context in which it was created.

5. Simplify the Future

Sometimes it takes a ridiculous amount of back-and-forth emails just to schedule a meeting between two people. If the coordination is between a whole group of people, then forget about it. There is some scheduling software that allows you to coordinate meetings- but you trade the privacy of your calendar in order to make it work. At Skejul, we’re fixing the headache of scheduling meetings while simultaneously eliminating privacy concerns. A few simple clicks and your calendar does the work for you, finding the perfect meeting time for everyone on your invite list.

Take back control of your schedule. If you’d like to see how our product works, sign up to test out our beta here.