By the time you reach your forties, you will have attended literally thousands of meetings. According to Effectivemeetings.com through a white paper by MCI, the average worker attends 61.8 meetings per month and 50% of the meeting time is considered wasted. That means you are potentially wasting a work week per month in meetings that are not accomplishing anything important.
One of the reasons in my opinion that so much time is wasted is because there are too many meetings to attend and most meetings are not being well prepared for by either the organizer or the attendee. This lack of preparation leads to disjointed meeting flows, distracting sidebar discussions, and unmet expectations.
Here are some simple ways to prepare for a meeting that is faster and more effective:
- Set and publish an agenda (and read it if you’re an attendee). This helps the organizer organize his/her thoughts on topics to be covered. It also enables attendees to see what is or isn’t being covered and can come prepared for the meeting with pertinent input.
- Set hard time limits for your meetings in offbeat intervals. Scheduling a twenty-minute meeting gives everyone the expectation that the meeting needs to be crisp. It also allows the professional meeting going to have a few minutes before their next one.
- Invite essential attendees only. While it is great to be inclusive, having people who are not directly affected by the meeting topics yields for disinterested participants. Disinterested participants tend to be distracting and cause the meeting to veer off course as they get the topics their interested in interjected into the meeting.
- Start on time. If most of the attendees can make the appointed time, start the meeting. The late arrivers will catch up and will also make an effort to be punctual the next time. Also, do not let the late arriver hijack your meeting by apologizing, making excuses, etc. Guess what? No one cares. Be on time.
- Send out minutes in action oriented formats. Do not send a recap of the meeting, instead send what needs to be done coming out of the meeting. This makes each subsequent meeting more productive and the agenda easier to write.
Make sure you take your meeting organization and attendance seriously. It will help you be more productive both in and out of your meetings.