How to make your meetings efficient? :

Ah the meetings, team meetings, start-up meetings, linkage, coordination, consultation, validation, creation, verification and other corporate lexicon that we often create to have the impression of being well organized at work. We come to be suffering from acute meetingitis.

In the context of widespread telecommuting, meetings on Zoom and other video conferencing platforms can cause fatigue and burnout. Two syndromes that have been increasing at lightning speed since the start of the pandemic.

In this article, we’ll take stock of the harms of over-meeting meetings and explore ways to make meetings more efficient and less exhausting.

Most meetings are (almost) useless

Did you know that more than half of workplace meetings are considered unnecessary and “waste of time”? This is the result of a global survey carried out by a British firm specializing in surveys and analyzes. Also, employees spend more than eight hours a week in meetings. So at least one day a week.

So technically, if we subtract eight useless and unproductive hours per week, we would be able to have a four-day work week. We will come back to this later.

Go back to your memory: how many times have you or members of your team made an important decision during a meeting? Having trouble remembering the last time? It’s normal. Note that 3 out of 4 meetings do not lead to any decision making.

From this was born the term reunionite, which is the tendency to organize useless work meetings and without real decision-making. The meeting stems from the frustration of employees facing a flood of meetings that have four major flaws:

The high number of participants Too long durations Lack of objectives Lack of decision-making

Although measuring the effectiveness of a meeting is a subjective notion, there is much work that highlights the ineffectiveness of repeat meetings. However, solutions exist to remedy this.

Solutions to make meetings more efficient (and more attractive)

Often times you and your coworkers attend meetings that you often find unnecessary. Either for lack of motivation, or because you feel that the subject discussed does not concern you, or that you do not understand the objective of the meeting.

If in your company you find that meetings waste more time than they save you, is it time to ask yourself the right questions?

Am I inviting the right people to the meeting? Will my meeting take too long? Is there a specific topic for which I invite my colleagues? Why not write to the people concerned?

Here are some actions that can help you avoid unnecessary meetings and make those deemed essential more interesting and effective:

Choose the right type of meeting

Find out how many colleagues you need to invite to your meeting. Do we need an enlarged meeting? Or does the situation make it possible to meet the colleagues concerned one by one?

There is no worse feeling than feeling useless or too much when holding a meeting. If your colleague doesn’t see the point of attending the meeting and has no part to play in why you are calling them, don’t count on them to be motivated.

Foster the right kind of communication

Think about the purpose of your meeting. Are you able to present it in writing to your colleagues? Then your meeting may be unnecessary. Each member of your team will take the time to read your explanatory email and will come to you if a point is not clear. It would therefore be useless to mobilize the whole team for half an hour or an hour.

Set up a decision tree (meeting or not)

Try to ask yourself the right questions before jumping into a meeting invitation. Here are some questions to ask yourself. We share with you here the superb explanatory infographic produced by

Decision tree for planning a meeting. Source: smileatjob

Once you’ve read this, you know if your meeting is necessary or not. If it is necessary, you are already increasing your chances of making them more effective.

You are convinced that your meeting is necessary for your team. You should therefore invite them to think, discuss or debate a project. Here are some tips to make the meeting time fruitful and efficient.

Plan the meeting and communicate the purpose of your meeting

When we invite colleagues, we ask them to leave everything they have on hold at work. You should therefore be clear about the purpose of the invitation. Why are we here? This is the first question colleagues ask themselves. It’s up to you to answer them before their arrival.

If you invite your colleagues by email, then mention the subject clearly and say how long your meeting will last. Half an hour, an hour and a half? The nuance is important and allows everyone to organize their day.

Depending on the time of your meeting, make a plan of how the meeting will unfold. What to start with? How to bring the subject? How do I find an agenda? Think about all of these points before you start your meeting.

Set a clear goal

What should happen when we finish the meeting? Decide on something? Organize an event? Look into a problem?

Participants like to know what to expect. Communicating the objective of a meeting allows them to take ownership of it, in addition to feeling concerned.

Control everyone’s speaking time

Don’t consider a monologue. You will lose everyone after a maximum of ten minutes. Share the speaking time with your colleagues. Take the time to listen to everyone’s ideas.

Ideally, you could avoid digital in your meetings. A notebook and a pencil, it still works and it guarantees more attention from the participants.

End with decisions

A meeting without a final decision or plan of action tastes like something incomplete and it clearly gives the (fair) impression that meetings are of little use.

Decide, act and advise if you have the right to do so. The goal of having a meeting is to solve a problem or have a plan of action to get there.

If you are able to work out a timeline with the rest of the team, that would be ideal. Thus, your meeting will have really served to have a clear and readable action plan for all.

To finish…

Meetings and other working gatherings remain important for decision making within a team. In a context of teleworking and hybrid mode, it is necessary to assess their relevance twice so as not to fall into the excess and cause the exhaustion of the troops.

Remember to always set clear goals and guidelines in your meetings, they will be more attractive and more constructive.

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