Meetings can be a powerful tool to help produce new ideas in insights. Unfortunately, people spend so much time in meetings that it becomes a chore. In fact, most employees often view them as disruptive, inefficient, or downright boring.
According to a study by Verizon the average professional attends roughly 60 meetings per month. And if most employees hate meetings, it soon becomes very costly for companies in terms of productivity and moral. It’s estimated that up to US$37 billion is lost annually to inefficient meetings.
How to ensure effective meetings
Of course, meetings are an important and necessary part of business. But actions taken before the meeting can establish the groundwork for efficient results. The main consideration to ask yourself before scheduling any meeting: is having the meeting essential, or can you achieve your goal without it? This will help determine what (if any) type of meeting you should have.
Taking pointers from ten of the most successful leaders in various industries, GetVoip has put together the following infographic. From Oprah to Mark Zuckerberg, find out how you can make your meeting more productive and efficient.
10 tips for running efficient meetings
Make sure your meeting has a specific purpose
Oprah Winfrey aggressively avoids meetings by opting for detailed email communication. Could your meeting be replaced by an email? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you need to make a group discussion?
- Is brainstorming needed?
- Do you need to compile a team report?
- Is a strategy or plan needed?
Use a detailed agenda
Tripping.com CEO Jen O’Neal uses a 30-minute stop watch to to keep meetings on-agenda and on-time; if the meeting goes longer, whoever called it must put $5 in the team beer jar.
Items on the agenda should be:
- Meeting objective—be as specific and concise as possible
- List of all potential attendees
- Outline of topics to be covered and time spent on each
- Starting and stopping times for the meeting
Be selective when inviting participants
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos uses the “two pizza rule’, which limits the number of meeting attendees to how many people can reasonably be fed by two pizzas.
Problems with large meetings:
- Too many opinions in one room
- Subject matter isn’t relevant to all attendees
- Not all voices are heard
Provide preparation materials ahead of the meeting
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg requires employees to send in advance so meeting time can be used for discussion.
Preparation materials could include:
- Relevant documents, videos, and emails
- Pertinent questions, topics, issues of the upcoming meeting
- Quick polls/surveys relevant to the meeting purpose
Designate a facilitator to provide structure and direct the meeting
Alphabet CEO Mark Page instilled at Google that every decision-oriented meeting must have a clear decision-maker.
Facilitator characteristics should include:
- Assertive and respectful
- Ability to manage speaking times
- Unbiassed to topics being discussed
Establish explicit ground rules that the group agrees to follow
Brivo CEO Steve Van Till instituted a “no rehash” rule where attendees raise a ping-pong paddle any time something is rehashed and the discussion moves on. Ground rules could include:
- We won’t discuss “X” topic or challege
- Each person has an established time to talk
- No devices (e.g. cellphone, tablet, etc.)
Incorporate movement or exercise
Virgin founder Richard Branson employs standing or walking meetings to boosts attendees’ creativity.
Reasons you should move around:
- Stagnation leads to grogginess and 39% of meeting attendees’ have admitted to falling asleep
- Movement increases blood flow and brain activity
- An exercise break provides for everyone to take a mental break as well
Focus on task completion rather than timeframe
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg takes a notebook with a list of action items to every meeting. Whether it takes ten minutes or an hour, the meeting is over once all items are crossed off. So, rather than watching the clock, focus on:
- Checking off outlined tasks
- Generating actionable plans and ideas
- Solving specific issues or challenges
Conclude the meeting with a summary
Former Chief Talent Officer Patty McCord famously implemented “Patty’s Parting Questions” which asked: “Have we made any decisions in the room today, and if so, how are we going to communicate them?”
Your summary should include:
- Topics discussed and people who attended
- Important takeaways or discoveries
- Action items and timelines
Implement a follow-up mechanism to review meeting takeaways
Legendary GM CEO Alfred Sloan said little in meetings and instead sent concise, but actionable memos after the meeting to attendees. Some potential follow-up mechanisms include:
- Chat thread with attendees of the meeting
- Email summary with next steps
- Calendar reminders for important dates or deadlines
Now that you know how to make the most of your time, click here for a humorous take on how to appear smarter in meetings.
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.