No matter how much you may wish it to be otherwise, meetings at work are necessary. But they don’t have to be long, annoying affairs that get little accomplished. A fresh look at how we can take ownership of making meetings better.
Think you attend a lot of meetings?
Let’s do the math and see if that’s true:
So, data has proven what we’ve all known for a long time: We spend too much time in meetings. They are time-sucks that often accomplish little and force us to spend our personal time catching up on the work we should have been doing while sitting in a meeting.
Is there a way to salvage the work meeting?
Paul Axtell, author of “Meetings Matter: 8 Powerful Strategies for Remarkable Conversations,” says meetings are important, but we’ve lost sight of how to ensure they are productive.
For example, 92% of information workers fess up to multitasking during meetings, even though it has been shown that there is a 40% drop in productivity when you multitask and a 50% spike in errors.
That’s why he advises to “leave your technology at the door,” and “keep only what you need for the meeting in front of you.”
You may argue, of course, that the reason you use your smartphone to check your email (and Facebook and Pinterest) during meetings is because of other people. Other people make the meetings run too long. Other people don’t stay on topic. Other people aren’t focused.
Buy Axtell advises that one of the keys to more productive meetings is that everyone needs to take more personal responsibility for meetings going wrong. In other words, it may not always be other people. It may be…..you.
Here are some ways you can take personal responsibility for making meetings more effective, Axtell says:
If you’re a manager in charge of running a meeting, then you have even more responsibility for ensuring that a session is productive. But sometimes that can be difficult, especially if you’ve got a chronic interrupter, a complainer or motormouth. In these situations, Axtell says some strategies include:
Finally, if you’re really pressed for time and want to ensure your group stays focused, you might consider a strategy used by Christopher Frank, an author and vice president of American Express. He suggests having participants say in five words or less the problem to be solved. If the answers are inconsistent or lengthy, then that’s a clue that attendees aren’t focused on the same problem.
“By clearly articulating the issues, you will get a good idea of the information you need, the people you should talk to and will ensure everyone is working toward the same goal,” he says.