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5 Ways To Improve Meeting Productivity

5 Ways To Improve Meeting Productivity

Implement 30-minute limits, detailed agendas, essential attendees only, clear objectives, and no-devices policies to enhance meeting productivity significantly.

Is the Meeting Necessary

The first thing to consider before scheduling a meeting is whether the issue can be resolved with an email or a quick call. According to the Atlassian survey, average employees attend 62 meetings a month, with half of them being unnecessary and complicating the business flow. Determine the need for a meeting by posing a question if the issue requires a discussion/decision-making. For instance, a report of a project’s status might be alternatively stated in an email. Meanwhile, a conversation about a new product’s design will undoubtedly benefit from actual interaction. If so, choose the async means of communication to save everyone’s time.

Define the Meeting’s Objective and Prepare an Agenda

Any productive meeting requires a clear target. Establish the measurable objective of the upcoming event and write it in the meeting’s invitation. According to Harvard Business Review, meetings with a precise focus and agenda can become 20% more efficient . For instance, instead of naming a meeting “Marketing Discussion,” write, “Q3 Marketing Strategies for Product X,” which leaves no open space for irrelevant topics. Preparing and sending the agenda at least a day before the meeting will help the participants to get ready and stay focused. According to the Microsoft report, 70% of the surveyed employees think that meetings are more productive with an agenda.

Involve Only the Key Players

Anyone not involved directly with the objective should not attend the event. Decision-makers and employees present the only relevant perspectives, and anyone else is an extra load that might dilute the discussion. For instance, while the departmental budget ones, only the heads of each department and financial department’s analysts should be invited. Smaller groups perform 35% more efficiently on LinkedIn. Assign roles to the other participants, like a timekeeper, a notes taker, or a devil’s advocate.

Utilize Technology

Use meeting management tools or software to keep track of time and topics. Software like Microsoft Teams or Zoom should assist the time limit enforcement of the process and the agenda . Use Zoom’s software solutions like breakout rooms for more detailed discussions . Automated software like Otter.ai should keep meeting notes and free up 30% of the time used for post-show up meetings. Any meeting’s flow and finale should be summarized within 24 hours, and the meeting participants receive a summary including the decisions and the objectives . The assigning of staff for task lists made in the past ten years shows a 25% increase in Google’s task completion rates.

Write Down Agenda

Creating an Effective Agenda

An effective meeting agenda is your best tool for guiding participants towards the desired outcomes. A study by the American Psychological Association has shown that a well-organized agenda can reduce meeting times by up to 80%. First, define the key objectives for the meeting. For instance, if you’re trying to finalize the product launch date, your agenda may include reviewing the market, discussing the production, and deciding on the launch date.

Steps for Crafting an Agenda

Start with the end to identify the beginning: List the successful outcomes of the meeting as bullet points on the top of your doc. Then, create sections for the main topics you want to cover and allocate time to each purpose. For instance, you might allocate 15 minutes to review the market, 20 minutes for the production, and 10 minutes to decide on the launch.

Include Preparation Tasks

Create an additional few lines at the start of the agenda that highlight the things the attendees should do to prepare. For instance, you may ask them to review the market report, bring the necessary data and suggestions for production, as well as ideas for the launch.

Distribute the Agenda Early

Make sure to send out the agenda at least 48 hours before the meeting. According to the State of Meetings report by Doodle, that increases the engagement and preparedness of the participants by over 50%.

Use Tools to Manage and Share

Use the Google Docs feature to create and share the agenda. It can be updated in real time and accessed by all participants at any time. You might also set up calendar invites with the agenda attached to ensure that all participants can easily get to it.

Start and Stop on Time

Emphasizing Punctuality in Meetings

The beginning and the conclusion of meetings are crucial periods, as prompt start and end not only maintain the professional environment but also show respect for the time of the participants. Over 40% of employees consider late starts and overruns to be the most significant waste of time at a meeting according to a Microsoft survey . Therefore, even if some participants have not arrived for the meeting, start and conclude the meeting as scheduled to enforce the culture of punctuality.

Steps for Ensuring Good Timekeeping

  • Setting clear expectations: in the invitation to the meeting, include information about the exact time of starting and ending. It will be clear to the guests that the beginning and especially the closing time will be observed at all costs.

  • Send reminders: use computer-program calendar invitations with the built-in reminder. The invitees will see the alert 15 minutes before the meeting and will be able to prepare.

  • Leading by example: it is vital that the meeting organizer be the first to arrive and the first to go . Do not indulge situations when a VIP arrives late, it undermines discipline.

  • Use a public timer: display a projector or monitor where everyone can see how much time is left before the end of the meeting.

How to End the Meetings in Time

Plan your agenda so that important issues are at the very beginning. When time is up, but not all the issues have been discussed, raise the question of holding another meeting with the team . In some cases, it will be possible to do without another gathering if the less important issues are settled by written communication.

Benefits of Timely Meetings

Begin and end at the scheduled time. This not only eliminates any disappointment that is wasted on these productive workdays. The practice helps maintain the team’s morale as a whole by knowing that everyone’s time is respected.

Cover important items first

Prioritizing Key Topics in Meetings

The most effective meetings address agenda items in order of importance. By quickly moving to key objective, this strategic approach ensures critical topics dominate a meeting during which participants are freshest and most alert. According to research from the American Management Association, meetings that start with key points or objectives are up to 30% shorter, as decisions are more effectively made with broad agreement.

Identify Critical Objectives

An adequate analysis should be carried out before the meeting to target which points are the most important. This analysis should be based on whether the decision needs to be made now, or whether the choice will have a significant impact on operations or quality of life. For example, if a major policy change is on the table, or a 2 month project has to be finished in 6 weeks, the decision making on these points should be prioritized.

Structure the Agenda Accordingly

All relevant objectives should be listed on the agenda with the most important at the top of the list. This will set the tone for the meeting, displaying the emphasis that will be placed on this point. All other points lower on the list will be empathically pushed back. For example, if deciding how to change a major project’s budget will be principal goal, this should be the first item on the agenda.

Allocate Time Accordingly

The time allocated for these discussion should allow the participants to cover the points in depth. Probably slightly overestimating the time for these points will encourage participants to explore all aspects of the decision and give everyone opportunity to contribute. This careful time management early in the meeting can lead to better decision making.

Engaging Key Stakeholders Early

The early involvement of decision makers and other stakeholders is important. If for example, a budget is the crucial point on the list, involve the people who need to sign off on the budget at the earliest point in the meeting. By ensuring their point of view is discussed and their support secured early it is less likely that the meeting will grind to a halt on given point several times. If key stakeholders in the finances are already involved as the budget is worked out, their support will likely be there when the budget needs to be approved at the end of the night.

Benefits of Front-Loading Meetings

Front-loading meetings with the most crucial topics is highly productive. Because big topics are discussed when the participants are at their freshest and most alert, they make better decisions. Moreover focusing on the most important topics makes for a more efficient meeting. If discussions stray to less important topics later in the night at the end of the meeting, teams may waste hours spinning their wheels without coming to a decision.

Summarize Each Conclusion

summaries done after every meeting makes a huge difference when it comes to productivity and follow-through. A study conducted by the University of North Carolina showed that having a summary of conclusions for a meeting improves the follow-up action completion by 20% for each meeting as opposed to having no meeting conclusions. They ensure that no valuable information gets lost between the end of one meeting and the next one.

Concise Summary of Techniques

Each decision made or actionable plan should be immediately restated after the facilitator signals that the group is done discussing a given point on the agenda. Otherwise, the end of the meeting tends to degenerate into a mundane discussion and achieves nothing . The restatement should include the points outlined below:

  • What decisions have been made and what has been agreed upon.

  • Who is responsible for following through on each action.

  • When things need to be completed.

For example, a group might decide to amend the budget for the marketing department by 10% or less. This means that someone in the team will need to actually go into the spreadsheet for the marketing budget and reduce it by the required percentage . The summary should state “John will be in charge of amending the budget and it has to be done by the 2nd of the month.”

Every summary should be made up of bullet points for convenience and clarity. This way, the text will be easy to read, and it will be evident that they are merely a repetition of what has been previously said. In this form, it will be entirely clear what has to be done and by whom. Each restatement must follow with a prompt request for everyone to confirm them before they can be moved on from.

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