Team meetings can be massive wastes of time. Instead of taking a few moments to catch up and develop ideas, you and your colleagues proceed to either doze off or check email as someone drones on.
The good news is there are a few small fixes you can make that will transform your meetings from dreaded blocks on your schedule into efficient ways to realign your team.
After working with companies like American Express and Coca-Cola, she found common reasons why most meetings are wastes of time and how to fix them.
title=”1. They have no purpose or structure.”
content=”If your meetings are stretching on much longer than they should be, they likely lack a clear purpose. Before the meeting begins, tell your team what the main objective of getting together is, and determine how it will progress.
Pryce-Jones recommends saving the ‘meat’ of the meeting for the middle, after everyone has focused on the task at hand but before their minds start drifting.”
source=”Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design”
caption=”Even a single daydreaming employee is a bad sign.”
title=”2. The moderator is stretched too thin.”
content=”You can’t properly manage the meeting if you’re trying to do everything at once.
Pryce-Jones suggests having a ‘wingman’ who is responsible for the little things, like bringing refreshments and making sure the projector is working, as well as ensuring the team sticks to the agenda. Ask them to let you know if you’re falling behind schedule or if the meeting is no longer constructive.”
source=”VFS Digital Design/Flickr”
caption=”The person running the meeting may be trying to juggle too many things at once.”
title=”3. The moderator isn’t the best person to run all parts of it.”
content=”If you know that a particular team member knows more about a topic of discussion than you do, let them lead that part of the meeting to keep things moving quickly. It keeps you from stumbling and keeps your team alert and ready to speak.”
source=”Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr”
caption=”The moderator should know when to turn the meeting over.”
title=”4. There are no ground rules for conduct.”
content=”Pryce-Jones says that frustration arises when employees hold back their feelings in meetings because they’re afraid of stepping on each other’s toes.
Avoid this frustration by establishing a code of conduct. Set a time limit on the meeting and consider allotting set portions of time each employee will speak. Ask the wingman to be responsible for letting the team members know if they are being too vague or verbose, and don’t let politeness interfere with getting things done.
‘You’ve got to have a little bit of tension, because that’s where the real value is added,’ Pryce-Jones says.”
caption=”Allow employees to say what they need to, without letting the meeting go off the rails.”
title=”5. The meetings aren’t relevant to everyone in attendance.”
content=”If employees are constantly sneaking emails on their smartphones or tablets rather than writing down relevant notes, ‘that is a strong signal to me that the content of the meeting is not correct,’ Pryce-Jones says.
Likewise, if you find that your meetings have become a series of ‘submeetings’ in which you’re only fully engaging one or two employees at a time while everyone else checks their phone or daydreams, then you’re wasting time. Keep meetings relevant for everyone involved by utilising other forms of communication that don’t require getting the team together, whether that be through one-on-one meetings or business group messaging services like Slack.”
source=”University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment/flickr”
title=”6. There are no followups.”
content=”Communication is key to successful meetings, especially if you’re experimenting with finding the ideal format for your team. Keep track of your meetings, and don’t rely on just your own thoughts. If you tried a time limit, ask your employees if they felt that the meeting went more smoothly or got cut short. Get a sense of whether or not your team thinks the purpose you set out to achieve at the beginning was actually fulfilled. Be open to suggestions on how the meeting can be improved.”
source=”VFS Digital Design/Flickr”
caption=”Make sure the objectives you discussed get completed.”
title=”7. They’re getting stale.”
content=”Regular meetings can become repetitive and boring and therefore not as productive. Sometimes all that’s required to bring energy and good ideas back to the table is a change of scenery, Pryce-Jones says. Try going to a nearby cafe or even a bar and treat your team to coffee or beer.
As always, ask your team if they enjoyed the change of pace. If they enjoyed it but didn’t find it constructive, try something else the next time. It’s never a complete waste of time, says Pryce-Jones, since ‘a bit of socialising is never going to hurt things.'”
source=”By CoffeePartyUSA on Flickr”
caption=”Go out for coffee every now and then.”