All of us have been in meetings and wondered “why am I here” or “what is the purpose of this gathering” or “who was assigned to do what”. Meetings have a mixed reputation. They can be powerful and efficient times to collaborate and “get things done” but can also be ineffective and a “waste of time”. One thousand workers were surveyed by the Centre for Economics and Business research and found that employees waste on average 2 hours and 39 minutes in meetings every week.

Workers spend:

  • 4 hours a week in meetings and
  • Cite “too many meetings” as the time waster

So, how do you make meetings more effective? Here are 7 Steps from Kevin McDaniel (WindRiver Strategies):

1. Create Clarity and Purpose: Both spontaneous and “standing” meetings should clarify and define the purpose of the meeting and why people are required to be there.

2. Set Boundaries for the Agenda: All of the “world’s issues” are not going to be solved in one meeting. Narrow the focus and stay on topic. Consider keeping your meeting to 3 items or less.

3. Encourage Collaboration and Connection: Competent people will get more accomplished outside the meeting once their task is clear. Let them.

4. Keep To Your Time Frames: Everyone is busy and schedules are tight. If a critical team member must leave early then agree to end by that time. Adjust your agenda accordingly. But…make that meeting effective even if it is limited in scope.

5. Make People (not the task) the Focus: Clarify everyone’s role, assign people to specific tasks and create agreement with team members as to when those assignments will be complete.

6. Document the Meeting: Designate someone to summarize meeting objectives that are discussed, resolved and assigned. The documentation should include all pertinent who, what, where, when and why’s. Share the minutes with everyone who attended so that no one forgets who was assigned to do what by when. If any follow-up meetings are required, these notes will make it easier to reengage purpose and the desired outcomes.

7. Be Clear with Confidentiality: Openly describe to your group “how confidential” the meeting is. Set clear guidelines.

When a meeting is organized and effectively run, team members walk away feeling productive. That’s not only good for business morale…it’s also good business.