Meetings are a vital part of every organisation and our working lives. They are essential for us to collaborate with each other on important issues such as planning and decision making. The issue with meetings is that they are abused more and more with constant ‘catchups’ that waste time and don’t produce results. We all complain about them, but are we actually doing anything to fix the problem?
Wasting away in meetings
In a previous blog we discussed the findings from our research investigating the time spent in meetings. We found that the average worker attends 3.7 meetings every week, spending one hour nine minutes preparing for each meeting and one hour 22 minutes actually attending it.
So how can we justify these meetings and make them more effective? Trending new articles would have you follow ‘tricks’ such as standing meetings, or even simply having your meeting outside. Sadly, in the UK if we had to hold our meetings outdoors – we would only have about a 14-day window in the year to have them. While ‘standing meeting’s’ may be a good way to scare people away from meetings due to the prospect of spending an hour on their feet – these ‘tricks’ aren’t actually acknowledging the core issue of meetings.
Identifying the problems with meetings
When we investigated meetings we identified the two key areas of meetings that are within your control to be able to implement fixes; Don’t worry you can stay seated and out of the rain for your future meetings.
“Does anyone have anything they would like to discuss?”
Meetings without agendas waste time. We have all attended meetings where colleagues have been unprepared, the meetings went off track and the topics covered wasted your time. These type of problems all have the same root cause – an ineffective agenda.
It is not simply enough for an agenda to exist- it has to be managed properly to be effective. A good meeting has a clear agenda
“What was the point of that meeting?”
If you leave a meeting without any action steps, you should question the value of said meeting. Meeting’s with keywords such as ‘catch up’ or ‘update’ are the common guilty parties and our calendar’s get filled up with these type of meetings that could just be an email. Unless you are meeting to work towards actions and planning moving forward – you are just wasting time.
It is even common to actually leave meetings unclear who has been assigned what and to what deadline, which is just as effective as not assigning actions at all.
Make a plan and take action to fix meetings
MeetingSquared was developed to provide organisations with the tools to target those weak areas of meetings by providing boards with the ability to improving collaboration before, during and after the meeting.
Build a better agenda
Firstly, a good agenda procedure will ensure participants are aware of what is expected of them before and during the meeting. MeetingSquared’s interactive agenda that is visible to everyone attending the meeting in advance, gives the meeting a greater purpose and direction.
With the agenda circulated in advance, and accessible remotely while on the move on different devices. Attendees can view meeting documents in beforehand and make notes for the meeting so they come prepared to make a contribution.
Record and monitor meeting actions.
MeetingSquared includes functionality to manage the actions from the meetings and monitor them to ensure they are being progressed.
An owner of each action can be assigned so there is clear transparency of who is responsible for what. We can also set deadlines and even email reminders to ensure that the action owner is aware what is required of them.
With the functions in MeetingSquared, we are ensuring that each meeting wasn’t a waste of time by ensuring there is correct follow up to each one and that our time discussing and planning has been worthwhile.