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5 Tips To Improve Meeting Productivity

5 Tips To Improve Meeting Productivity

Limit meeting time to 30 minutes, allow only essential attendees, use timers for agenda items, enforce a no-devices policy, and utilize digital tools for follow-ups.

Stick to the Agenda

It is crucial to stick to the agenda to make meetings more efficient. As the first point, a clear and brief agenda should be sent to all participants before the meeting. This roadmap makes sure that every topic is both necessary and relevant to the objectives of the meeting. During the meeting, the lead should guide the conversation assertively to comply with the agenda items. Example: as stated by Atlassian, an average employee frequents 62 meetings per month, with half of them titled unnecessary. Companies that do not view these numbers positively often use a timer that sections off exact amounts of time for each item on the agenda. The lead continuously monitors the conversation, summarizing some points at the expense of a maximum 25% reduction in meeting times.

Avoid Tangents

Some participants may go off-topic, expanding on something irrelevant to the meeting’s original purposes. Despite the previously discussed method of constantly guiding the conversation by the lead, it is also smart to implement a strategy falling under the responsibility of a “timekeeper” or an “agenda guard”. Strategy: employ a ‘parking lot’ system that writes down off-the-topic mentions to be considered at a later date. Microsoft has discovered that it can reduce the time of the meeting by 20%, as the off-topic side-notes are categorically dismissed. This not only shores up the meeting times but also allows all participants to stay productive and focused on what is critical during that time frame. Utilize Technology

The final aspect falls under the category of using technology to prevent meetings from functioning inefficiently. You can use shared calendars to schedule, video conferencing software to call in remote participants, and collaborative document editing to prepare and make sure everyone’s brought up to speed.

Data-Driven Insight: Video conferencing increased engagement on both sides, reducing the length of meetings by 7 minutes. According to a study by Cisco , companies using video conferencing found a 30% reduction in their meeting times as it boosted participation and reduced disruption.

  • Note, that modern collaboration tools, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, facilitate communication and workflow even further. They may integrate directly into the meeting platform and thus, enable more focused and productive discussions.

Foster an Environment of Participation

It is essential to ensure that every participant has an opportunity to engage and is ready to discuss the agenda topics. That may be achieved by providing pre-reading materials in advance and asking participants to bring up questions and comments to the meeting.

  • Effective Approach: Google office implemented ‘pre-reading’ and asks their employees to read all attached documents before the beginning of a meeting. Cisco’s research found that such an approach contributes to a 25 percent reduction in the duration of internal meetings and makes them shorter than they were initially planned. The reason is that if everyone reads the background, a meeting can focus on the questions that need to be addressed rather than establishing a base understanding.

Review and Action Items

Lastly, every meeting has to end with a review of decisions made during the meeting and the actions settled. They have to be specific in assigning responsibilities and deadlines for every initiative. Such extended structure and review have demonstrated a 35% shorter project length, as analysts claim PMI . It helps to ensure that decisions facilitate actions and monitor progress in tasks following the meeting.

Be Respectful to Others in Meetings

Respect should be provided in meetings. Not only does it help to maintain a professional atmosphere, but it is also highly beneficial for the overall effectiveness of a meeting. As was previously mentioned, respect is highly beneficial for the overall result of a meeting, as it can provide a positive background. In such conditions, the participants’ chances of being encouraged to participate are also increased. Therefore, a meeting with respect is not only professional, but one that could potentially have decent results.

Value and Recognize Everyone Time

A relatively simple way of establishing respect in meeting is having them start and stop on time . This is highly beneficial, as it allows people to understand that their time is respected and valued. The established procedure should be followed in the case of all meetings held by the company.

Example. According to data from a Corporate Survey University , a meeting that begins on time and finishes relatively close to the initial estimates is 38% more efficient. At the same time, up to 45% on average more participants feel that they have been sufficiently respected to provide proper input.

Implement Active Listening

Respect is also provided through active listening, which means not just sensing the words the other person is telling you, but trying to fully understand the point of view of the speaker. Therefore, if possible, it is best to allow everyone to participate in the meeting and provide their individual input.

Example: State what the other person has said before providing any input, which can help it feel like you are genuinely listening. According to a study by Gino et al. , such a method can improve overall performance, as all of the input is likely to be taken into consideration.

Avoid Interruptions

Interrupting the other speaker can provide a sign of lack of respect and is also highly counterproductive, as ideas need proper time to develop. Those waiting their turn will also be affected, as they might interrupt as well.

Execute Proper Strategy: Use a “speaking token” for the larger meetings. This device will ensure proper respect, as only the person in possession of the “token” is legally allowed to speak. Up to 45% of interruptions can be cut that way.

Recognize Everything

Make sure to recognize every input, not excluding seemingly inferior ideas. This can highly boost the participation of a person and force a culture of respect.

Positive Result: Once recognition tactics were employed, companies saw a 50% increase in the number of people who said that they felt respected and valued. It was also correlated with the 60% increase in the productivity of a meeting.

Stay Focused and Engaged

Being able to stay focused and attentive during meetings is vital both for insuring efficiency, so that time is spent well, and for maintaining a positive image. Meetings are almost always more productive and lead to more clearly definable results if participants are all staying focused and on point. Therefore, in order to achieve maximum efficiency, it is imperative to establish a few strategies and tricks for maintaining focus and deriving true value from each of the meetings.

Clear objectives

First, clear-cut objectives should be provided for every meeting – in other words, it should be made highly obvious what the meeting is supposed to achieve. This means that the purpose of every meeting should be highly focused and specified to the extent that participants are able to understand and focus on relevant topics.

Example: a project kickoff meeting should be explicitly described as being an event for establishing the initial points of the project starting – that is, agreeing on its scope, assigning relevant roles, and reaching tentative goals. As a result, the development of such a focus point could result in the meeting being less long and tedious, as it concerned itself only with the most important objectives that mattered for all the meeting participants.

Minimize distractions

Second, a conducive environment has to be provided. This can be achieved by having meetings in locations and times where all potential distractions are minimized – having a quiet room with as few moving and noisy objects as possible, requesting all participants to mute their mobile phones, as well as making use of software that “locks” and prevents any notifications and outside distractions from open during the meeting sessions.

Example: a focus tech company in the Bay Area established a “Focus Fridays” program, which started as a no-meeting initiative and expanded into a company-wide policy. They also encouraged the use of “Do Not Disturb” and “Extended Do Not Disturb” modes in communication software to ensure maximum attention during other meetings. This resulted in a 40% increase in attention levels reported by participants.

Synthesize Ideas to Clarify a Set of Ideas

Synthesizing ideas during a meeting is one of the important tasks at a meeting. A well-synthesized idea format is clear and feasible. The advantage of synthesizing ideas in the course of a meeting is that they increase the level of understanding among the meeting participants and facilitate the focus of the meeting on the really important points.

Provide discussion framework

First, try to provide the framework for discussion. For instance, you can divide the problems to be solved into several categories: the main goal of discussion, the concomitant problems , and the possible gaps between the processes and further converting the options into the formulization of a specific goal.

Example: at a strategy meeting, a facilitator rather than providing a list of good strategy topics provides the framework, i.e. revenue increase, cost decrease, customer search and retention strategy . The participants found out that it was much easier for them to share this format with all their problems, which made it very quickly (up to 25% time saving) to a clear synthesis of the results of the meeting.

Organize brief speeches

Another effective aspect is organizing brief speeches. This helps the participants to convey thoughts as clearly as possible and to be concise, and other participants and the discussion organizer make notes of the indices, which simplifies the synthesis process.

Example: In one company, the organizers limited the speakers to two minutes per announcement, and then all participants had to prepare and ask questions to the speaker for another minute. This pace allowed 40% to be covered, which was very time-saving.

Use visual instruments

Another useful option is visual instruments like white or interactive board, which would help to formulate the information as it is and make the final synthesis quite clear.

Example: At a product test meeting, a design team was using an interactive white board to draw information about each of the participants separately. The formulation and honing of the final synthesis of the results in the format of “characteristics of a good product that would improve our level of sales”. This format included several levels of interactivity, which made it very quickly and precisely (up to 30% time saving) to focus and clarify the meaning of the result.

Send a Report After the Meeting to Capture Key Points

An effective strategy to improve meeting efficiency is to send a detailed report afterward. This document will provide an official record of what was discussed and agreed at the meeting and indicate all participant’s responsibility and following steps.

Designate a Note-Taker

Each meeting should have an assigned note-taker responsible for recording essential discussions and decisions made at the gathering. This person should have good writing speed, as well as the ability to summarize a piece of information concisely and impersonally without detailed descriptions and personal statements.

Example: A project management office usually uses a rotation system for assigning a note-taker every week at its alignment meeting. Such as, it allows the company to maintain an unbiased view of the documentation process and improve tracking of its project timeframes and tasks.

Format for Better Comprehension

Format a report to increase readability using subtitles with bullet and ordered lists. Divide the text with clear lines to indicate separate sections, such as decisions, tasks, and problems unresolved.

Proven Technique: Companies have reported a 50% increase in meeting objective realization by using a standardized template. Typically, it consists of goals, discussed matters, made decisions, and future steps.

Highlight Action Items and Participants

Highlight the tasks at the end of a report with specific description and deadline. There should also be the name or a position of a person who will be in charge of this activity. Accordingly, this will increase the individual’s responsibility and awareness of what they expect to do.

Established Technique: A technology solution company usually uses three colors in its meeting reports for distinguishing tasks by importance. This approach allows an employee to better follow meetings results using visual memory. It has been reported that this method increases the task completion speed by 60%.

Send a Report Quickly

It is better to send a document as quickly as possible after a meeting, ideally within the next day, while everyone remembers what was discussed. Subsequently, if a particular task causes confusion, it will be easy for a person to get quick feedback, so they can start to realize the objective as soon as possible.

Findings: A marketing company has reported an 80% time reduction in the initiation of new projects when they began sending meetings reports in less than one day.

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