New research found the typical professional has ~5 meetings per day, up from ~3 per day prior to the pandemic.
So we conducted a poll asking: “How does the number of meetings you have now compare to before the pandemic?”
Here were the results:
- 54% — Way more meetings
- 30% — About the same
- 16% — Fewer meetings
With so many of us experiencing a sizable uptick in the number of meetings we endure throughout the day, it’s important to do what we can to make them better.
These tips may be straightforward and even obvious, but they require discipline. Even in the most familiar and comfortable situations, structure and clarity will help you to optimize your time, respect your colleagues’ time, and ensure your meeting invites don’t provoke a chorus of groans.
In other words, meetings are assumed to be a waste until proven otherwise…
WHEN IT’S YOUR MEETING, THE BURDEN IS ON YOU TO PROVE IT WAS WORTH IT.
Without further ado, here are 10 tips to make all your meetings better:
- Choose the right format. In-person or remote? Sitting or standing? Video or voice? Whatever you choose, don’t let it be by default.
- Keep your invite list tight. Every meeting attendee should NEED to be there. If you’re thinking of inviting someone just so that they can be looped in, don’t. Share information with them another way.
- Share an agenda ahead of time. Outline what you want to accomplish, including why it’s important in the larger context. Even if your agenda is one sentence long, better to get your attendees in the right headspace beforehand than to leave them guessing.
- Prepare your evidence. When you own the meeting, you’ve got the largest advantage: you know exactly what needs to be done. Come prepared with data that will help along decisions!
- Start with the bigger picture. Why is what you’re meeting about important – in the context of the organization’s long-term version and of each individual’s role? Even when the meeting is not a waste of anyone’s time, it can feel that way if the greater purpose isn’t clear to everyone.
- Beware meeting scope creep. The beauty of a well-crafted agenda is that you know what’s NOT on the table for discussion. Enforce it.
- Encourage participation. Someone not chiming in? Direct an open-ended question their way.
- Do not let who is responsible for what be ambiguous. Wrap-up by sharing takeaways out loud. Consider putting them in an email to everyone after the meeting to avoid any doubt.
- Know when to end it: on-time or early. Just because you set aside 30 minutes doesn’t mean the meeting deserves 30 minutes. If you accomplish what you need to before time runs out, put an end to it! If you’ve hit the end of your slated time but you’ve got more to do, still end it. Schedule a follow-up to finish.
- Don’t burn yourself out: schedule similar kinds of meetings in clusters. Recent studies have shown that fluctuating rapidly from feeling powerful at work to feeling powerless causes stress and reduces well-being. So: “consider reviewing your calendar from the past week to identify the types of experiences (meetings, tasks, etc.) that prompted you to feel more and less powerful. In the future, try to schedule tasks in clusters according to how powerful or powerless they tend to make you feel. For example, cluster tasks like giving advice or meeting with a subordinate on the same day of the week if possible. Similarly, consider grouping tasks on your calendar that are likely to make you feel unimportant and powerless — like asking for help or talking to your supervisor.” (HBR)
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