Have you ever received an internal meeting request and thought, “Why am I invited?” The meeting title is vague, has no agenda and it’s about to consume an hour out of your day. No!
Or better yet, a colleague approaches you in the hallway and wants to schedule a meeting with you. You’re thinking “Oh no—not again,” when you know you can probably resolve the need to meet right there on the spot, in an email or a quick phone conversation. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
In a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, a group of consultants from Bain & Company analyzed the calendars of key employees for one company and found that one weekly executive meeting consumed 300,000 hours each year. That doesn’t even include the hours spent preparing for the meeting!
And when the average employee spends 31 hours in unproductive meetings over a month it’s no wonder so many of us debate the need for meetings and question if they are truly effective—or a waste of time. To help you determine the difference, we offer up the following 5 tips when you think it’s time to get a meeting on everyone’s calendar.
1 – Ask yourself why you want a meeting. Is the material you want covered in the meeting up for discussion? Are you looking for input from colleagues? Or, could some of the information be answered in a quick email or conversation?
2 – Who is invited? You’ll want to limit your list to those who are absolutely necessary. Research shows that smaller groups of seven or less are more effective at decision-making, so making a smaller meeting should lead to a more productive meeting.
3 – Set an agenda. Sixty-three percent of all meetings have no planned agenda. Determine what needs to be covered in the meeting and make sure you distribute the agenda at least a day in advance.
4 – Task attendees with actionable items. Consider assigning items on the agenda to participants. Not only does this help narrow down your list of attendees, it guarantees everyone will be involved in the meeting.
5 – Next steps…and deadlines. All participants should agree on next steps and deadlines for those steps after the meeting. As the leader, don’t dictate deadlines. Encourage everyone to set his or her own goals. Chances are they’ll be more likely to act on them.
What’s your advice when organizing a meeting and how do you handle the dreaded Outlook invitation? Share your thoughts with us here.