Most people hate meetings but they still waste hours upon hours of not only their time but colleagues time on them annually. I always like to work between Christmas and New Years because I get more done than I feel I typically do in a month. I realized this year that the reason for the much higher productivity is that I am not spending most of every day in meetings, often ones with questionable value. If you add the cost (wages) from my wasted time to that of all the other people who are not optimizing their time during meeting where they are not deriving or creating value, there is an opportunity to increase significantly your team or company’s operational efficiency.
Based on this realization and having read Meetings Suck by Cameron Herold, I developed some policies that I recommend you replicate:
Delete all meetings once a year (easiest in January) and then only reschedule the ones you need and only with the people you need to attend. This is a strategy I wrote about in 2015, that I stole from a top-five game company, that company now is one of the two or three largest in the US.
Talk, don’t meet. Sometimes a quick conversation can resolve items without needing a meeting.
Ensure everyone invited needs to be there. If someone is on there phone during the whole meeting, it is less that person’s fault than the meeting organizer who brought in someone who was not needed.
Let people opt-out. If somebody says they do not want to attend a meeting, respect their wishes.
Prepare before a meeting. If you are going to be reviewing financials or KPIs, have the analysis complete and know what you want to discuss. Nobody wants to sit around watching you work on a spreadsheet during a meeting
Have people arrive early. Everyone should be early for meetings so that they can stay on time. You and your colleagues should get to the meeting five minutes early so that people can settle and be ready at the start time. By starting late, you are wasting money having people just sit around.
Schedule meetings for 25 minutes. That will allow five minutes to get to the next meeting early. Abandon one hour (or longer) meetings, so that the meetings stay focused. It is better to schedule a follow up than have an extra 30 mins that people feel they have to fill. Only schedule 55 minutes when you are confident you will need all 55 minutes,
Share an agenda with all attendees. Share an agenda for meetings a few days in advance and allow people to opt out if there is no business relevant to them being discussed. If you use Outlook or a similar organizer, best to put the agenda in the invite.
Include a timetable. With the agenda, include a timetable so people can attend for the part of the meeting relevant
If you make these changes, you will be surprised at how liberated you feel. Meetings will take on improved importance, making them more interesting to you but also to your colleagues. Everyone will benefit from better meetings.
- Improving efficiency from meetings can save your company money, significant savings can come from reducing the wages lost by people attending meetings that they do not contribute to and do not derive value.
- Start with a clean slate, delete all meetings and only add ones you need, and invite the people who need to be there.
- Reduce meetings to 25 minutes so you can start on time (and arrive on time for the next meeting) and share an agenda and timetable before the meeting.