5 Easy Ways to Stop Meetings Being a Waste of Time

What company wouldn’t benefit from more productive meetings? Too often, they have no point, serve no purpose and drag on too long. But a few simple tweaks can transform meetings into crucibles of creativity and collaboration.

Here are our top five tips for getting more out of any company meeting.

1. Set a meeting-cost timer

Nothing sharpens minds like the thought of wasted money. Instead of holding meetings against the clock, try one of the ingenious meeting-cost timer apps on the market, like MeeTime. These do what you’d expect – clock up how much the meeting is costing you, based on an average cost per attendee. When the cost runs into thousands (far sooner than you’d imagine), meetings quickly become more productive.

2. Leave the meeting room behind

The meeting room is the ultimate comfort zone. Staring at the same four walls dulls creativity and engagement, while sitting in those comfy ergonomic chairs hardly encourages urgency. A different setting is a great way to keep people focused and attentive. If you’re looking to stimulate creativity one-to-one, try Steve Jobs’ preferred mode of conversation: the al fresco walk-and-talk.

3. Stick to the objective like a bloodhound

The most effective meetings begin with a watertight agenda and end with actionable outputs. The way to achieve both is to start with a clearly-articulated statement of objective (ideally shared beforehand) and don’t allow the meeting to drift from it. One leadership guru claims this can save on average 17 minutes per meeting.

4. Make it exclusive

In the film In The Loop, a hapless MP is invited to an important meeting, only to find it stuffed with needless attendees, collectively referred to as ‘room meat’. There is no room in your meeting for room meat. If someone isn’t essential to the objective, don’t invite them. Is there an absolute cap on numbers? Ten is probably a sensible limit – confirming Amazon’s celebrated two-pizza rule.

5. Banish all devices

So, you’ve got the right people in the right meeting space, keenly focused on the objective at hand and primed to respond quickly and creatively. Distractions are the last thing you need. Remove the temptation to fiddle with phones or check email on laptops by banning them altogether – and watch attentiveness surge.

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