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How to Reclaim Productivity in Your Meetings


Those blocks of time intended for collaboration with teammates, providing updates on tasks and divining clarity on last-minute questions, but instead become timesheet approved opportunities to zone out.

If not led properly, meetings have the ability to be the number one detractor to workplace productivity. One study estimated that American companies hold 11 million meetings daily, with unproductive ones costing the country about $37 billion yearly.

While meetings tend to have a bad rap, it may not be the meetings themselves that are the issue, but the frequency and how organizations approach their use in the workplace.

Michael Mankins, an author of “Time, Talent, Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power” and a partner at Bain & Company states, “An excess of meetings is a symptom; it’s not a problem in and of itself. ” That problem, Mr. Mankins said, is “either a culture that rewards collaboration for collaboration’s sake, or more commonly, an organizational structure that basically necessitates more people being involved in critical activities than should be required.”

So then, how do we reclaim productivity in our meetings? Check out these three tips!

To Call the Meeting or Not to Call….

  • While communications via electronic devices have dominated our society – and let’s face it, the world could use a bit more face-to-face interaction – it is important to be discerning of when a meeting is necessary. Need clarification on an assignment or want an update on a project? Try sending an email. Want to brainstorm ideas for your client’s next big marketing campaign? By all means, send out that calendar invite! Through thoughtful consideration about calling meetings, you will ensure that time isn’t being wasted on something that could have been discussed via a simple email.

Learn the Art of the Pre-Meeting

  • Before anything else, preparation is the key to success -Alexander Graham Bell.

When it comes to successful meetings, preparation is key. Upon accepting an invite, request an agenda to determine the upcoming topic of discussion. By studying the agenda, not only will you be able to research anything you’re unfamiliar with, but you can plot out what your contributions will be as well. Ideally, there is not a lot of time during meetings to share your ideas, so it is paramount that time isn’t wasted figuring out what you are going to say, but instead articulating your ideas early on. 

Keep it Short and Sweet

  • If you are the person calling the meeting, aim to keep it short and sweet. According to research, engagement in meetings rapidly drops – from 84 percent to 73 percent – after 30 minutes. One crucial way of ensuring that gatherings are brief is by preparing and organizing what you want to get out of it BEFOREHAND (see second bullet above).

While meetings are a way of life for those in an office setting, there are steps to take to ensure that they don’t impede your office’s productivity levels. Whether it be by minimizing the number of office gatherings called or shortening the length, take little steps to increase the effectiveness of your meetings today!

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