Meetings don’t have to be a waste of time

  • By Monika Kristofferson Office Efficiency
  • Friday, May 2, 2014 4:44pm

What comes to mind when you think about going to a meeting?

Perhaps, “Oh no, not another one,” “Time suck,” “Waste of time,” “Too many,” or “Ineffective.” More often than not, our important meetings are viewed as less than productive. That’s a shame because we need to use our time effectively every day.

We all have a lot on our plates and the last thing we need to do is waste time. Plus, we all know that time is money. Meetings should be time well spent. The people who are present should be brainstorming, tossing around ideas (good or bad) and solving for problems within or outside the company.

When everyone leaves a meeting, there should be a clear plan of action with deadlines and accountability. Everyone should feel like something was accomplished. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Embrace these six guidelines to get you started in the right direction:

• Start on time. Do not waste anyone’s time by waiting 10 minutes for everyone to filter in. Stand firm on your start time and shut the door. Someone only has to open the door and walk in late while someone is already talking once before they are on time for the next meeting.

• End on time. Everyone is busy and everyone has work placed on hold while they attend a meeting. It’s very frustrating to sit in a meeting that goes on and on. Respect everyone’s time by sticking to the schedule and topic.

• Personal Updates. One reason meetings can get off topic is by sharing personal announcements. It’s better to incorporate this into the meeting. Allow time at the end of every meeting for personal updates with a time limit. Other options would be to create an employee newsletter or provide a bulletin board. We all work together and have a personal life outside of work, find a way to blend the two.

• Assign a facilitator. Make sure someone is in charge of running each meeting. It doesn’t have to be one specific manager or the CEO leading the way. You can allow various managers or staff to be in charge of planning the meeting, starting and ending on time, keeping the meeting on track and making sure everyone knows what to do after they leave.

• Be prepared. A sure-fire way to ensure that a meeting turns into a waste of time is to have unclear goals and unprepared participants. First, make sure that a meeting is actually required. If it is, then make sure that everyone knows exactly what needs to be covered and what decisions need to be made during the meeting.

• Finally, make sure that everyone who is attending knows what is expected of them to be prepared for the meeting.

Make it your goal to organize effective meetings so you can best utilize the talents and expertise of your team. Effective and satisfying meetings will boost morale as well as improve your company culture.