Do you find yourself enduring unproductive meetings week after week? You’re certainly not alone:
- The average leader spends 31 hours a month at meetings (software firm Atlassian study)
- Half of their meetings are their top time-waster (Atlassian)
- 46% “rarely” leave a meeting knowing what they’re supposed to do next (Wrike’s Work Management Report)
- Only slightly more than half leave a meeting knowing what actionable steps to take “most of the time” (Wrike)
6 Ways to Make Meetings Productive (and a win for everyone)
So, here’s how to make your meetings as useful and constructive as possible for you – and the people you manage:
- Question its purpose: “No purpose, no meeting,” says Neil Patel, entrepreneur and author of Hustle. When a meeting has a clear focus, it’s much easier to set concrete actionable next steps and follow-up.
- Pinpoint participants: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a “two pizza” rule for making sure only the right people attend meetings: The group should be small enough where it only takes two pizzas to feed every person attending. “Instead of holding one large meeting every week for the entire staff, set up smaller groups to meet and invite only key employees,” says workplace expert Heather R. Huhman,
- Stay productive. Make sure all your time in meetings is time well-spent. “After listening carefully,” says Steve Pemberton, HR officer, Globoforce, “I’d picked up a few phrases – ‘To piggyback on that …’, ‘To his point’ ‘and “To build on that’ – that usually indicated that what was about to come next wasn’t going to be productive.” That made them aware to move on to solutions or next steps, he says.
- Establish specific commitments: At the end of each topic, pause to agree on next steps and specifically who’s involved. Then assign someone to check in at appropriate intervals to ensure commitments are kept.
- Initiate a closing round: At the end of the meeting, go around the room and ask everyone to say what their next steps are in 30 seconds or less. “This can ward off any issues that may fester and prepare everyone for the next actions,” says Brad Volin, sales manager, Adigo.
- Follow up with key takeaways: Send an email to your team with clear, concise action items, deadlines, etc. so that everyone stays on the same page. “It also helps to quickly erase any confusion with any members of the meeting,” says Nick Francis, The Franchise Group.
Now, if you show everyone else how it’s done, they’ll start taking your lead.