4 Strategies to Transform Inefficient Meetings into Productive Sessions

A while ago, there was an interesting question circulating online:

‘Why do young people nowadays increasingly dislike meetings?’

This question sparked a lot of discussions, especially among young individuals who pointed out that it’s not just the younger generation that dislikes meetings. What we dislike is not the act of meeting itself but rather the inefficiency of meetings.

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At the same time, many managers are paying attention to this issue because regardless of whether we like it or not, some meetings are necessary. So the real question now is:

How can we avoid inefficient meetings?

To understand how to avoid inefficient meetings, we first need to identify what makes a meeting inefficient. Here are four situations to consider:

01-Meetings without a Purpose

Meetings are meant to have a purpose.

If there were statistics on it, meetings without a clear purpose might be the most attended meetings by people. Having a meeting without a clear purpose wastes not just one person’s time but the time of all the participants in the meeting. This time could have been spent on individual tasks, but due to the summons of a meeting, everyone gathers immediately. What’s frustrating is that until the end of the meeting, no one knows what the purpose of the meeting was.

The most puzzling part is that the meeting organizer often believes it was a successful and productive meeting…

The reason many meetings are not efficient is often because we don’t define the purpose of the meeting. We don’t even know why we are having the meeting; we are just summoned to the meeting room.

Once participants become like NPCs, and meetings become routine dungeons to clear, don’t expect any treasures to drop.”

02-Meetings Without Resolution

What does ‘without resolution’ mean?

Let’s take an example: Many bosses often have a packed schedule with numerous meetings. However, due to their busy schedules, they cannot attend every meeting, often leaving it to colleagues from different departments to conduct meetings on their own.

This can lead to a problem where there is no final decision-maker.

Not having a final decision-maker can be relatively manageable, as decisions can be relayed to the boss after the meeting for a final call. What’s more frustrating is when disputes arise during the meeting itself, and if there’s no consensus on a particular issue, it becomes difficult to proceed. As a result, meetings often end prematurely.

What’s even more exasperating is that because the meeting didn’t reach a resolution, the same meeting has to be rescheduled when the boss is available…

Issues that could have been resolved in a single meeting end up consuming the time and effort of many people over multiple iterations.”

03-Meetings Inserted at the Last Minute

Meetings inserted at the last minute aren’t just the ones where you’re dragged into a meeting room right before quitting time.

More commonly, it’s the situation where you’re unaware in advance, and just two minutes before the meeting officially starts, you receive an @mention in the group chat notifying you to join the meeting immediately.

In such situations, you often find yourself baffled. Even during the meeting when everyone is discussing, nobody cares if you understand the meeting’s topic and content; they just continue discussing.

While it’s understandable to have an emergency meeting due to an unforeseen event, because nobody had time to prepare, for a meeting that was planned in advance, there’s no excuse for not notifying participants ahead of time. It’s not just disrespectful to others but also disrespectful to the meeting itself.

In summary, inserting a meeting at the last minute might seem efficient on the surface, but behind the scenes, it disrupts many people’s plans.

04-Meetings Without Time Limits

If the first three types of meetings can be endured to some extent, meetings without time limits are truly suffocating.

For instance, some people require others to attend their meetings but can’t provide an estimated duration, leaving participants in a dilemma. They can’t afford not to attend, but once they’re there, they don’t know how long it will last.

It’s an awkward situation.

Some may argue that you can’t predict the duration of future events, and even if you can estimate a rough time, various unforeseen factors during the actual meeting might cause delays. So, what’s the point of estimating?

Indeed, we can’t predict how long a meeting will last. However, setting a time limit for a meeting isn’t about accuracy; it’s about constraint.

Meetings are a collective effort, and an indefinite duration means you’re occupying everyone’s time indefinitely, which is highly impolite and unprofessional in the workplace.

Therefore, it’s essential to establish an objective time limit for a meeting.

That’s why many meeting software platforms now require setting a duration when scheduling a meeting. This not only allows participants to see the expected duration, enabling them to plan their work accordingly, but also helps in scheduling venues for the next time slot.”

Huddles can easily help you control your meeting time with timer on each topic you discuss.

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