5 Steps to End Pointless Meetings

Sep 24, 2013

If your schedule today has a meeting in it, you’re not alone. It’s also not a surprise if you secretly (or not so secretly) think it’s a waste of time.

Most employees attend a whopping 62 meetings a month. And they consider half of those meetings wasted time, totaling 31 hours spent in unproductive meetings every month.

Almost half of people complain that meetings are the #1 time-waster at the office and feel overwhelmed by the number of meetings they have to attend.

In these meetings over 90% say they spend time daydreaming.

This wasted time is costing businesses $37 billion in salary costs every year.

So how do you put an end to all this wasted time, effort and money?

By ensuring that all your meetings are efficient. Here are five steps to get you on your way:

1. Is this necessary?

The first step to better meetings is asking whether the meeting is needed at all. Often meetings become our default mode. However, many times they are not needed.

Seriously consider whether a meeting is necessary or if tasks can be accomplished another way: through email, delegating someone to make the decision themselves, brainstorming information individually and then collecting it all in one document for everyone to review, etc.

Try to think outside the box.

2. Keep the guest list small

Meetings should be restricted to only people who are 100% needed. Everyone else should be left to get on with their own work. Don’t invite someone just because it would be nice to have them there.

3. Have a start and an end time

A lot of the time we set a start time, but fail to set a time when the meeting will end. Because of this, meetings can extend far longer than needed. Set a definite end time so people are aware of the time span they have to accomplish the meeting tasks and can plan the rest of their day accordingly.

If you find you are having difficulty making the decisions you need in the given time span, consider having stand-up meetings. People tend to make decisions faster when they are standing up. Plus, it’s good for you.

4. Have an objective/agenda

Don’t go into meetings blind. Every meeting should have a set of objectives and/or an agenda to make sure everyone stays on track. If something pops up that is not on the agenda, it should be set aside for another time.

Objectives and agendas also serve to help people see if it is necessary for them to attend the meeting beforehand and to properly prepare themselves.

5. Action Plans

A main reason many people find most meetings useless is that nothing is accomplished after the meeting. No steps are taken to ensure the meeting was a worthwhile use of their time.

By the end of your meetings, an action plan should be created with the next steps people need to take. This way something will happen as a result of the time invested.

Bonus: One bonus tip to help your meetings go smoothly, be respectful. Meetings will be more tolerable if everyone shows respect to the people in them. This means giving everyone a chance to talk, not interrupting, considering everyone’s opinion, showing up on time and listening.

Making Meetings Worthwhile

To make the most of the meetings happening in your office, make sure they are necessary, only those people needed are invited, there is a definite end time, an agenda to keep everyone on track and that something productive comes out of the meeting afterwards.

And be sure to be nice. You’ll be surprised how far that can go.

Interested in learning more facts about pointless meetings, excessive email or work interruptions? Check out this nifty infographic.