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Are You Wasting Time and Money with Your Meetings?

According to a 2014 study by Business Insider Australia, it was observed that out of 3,900 professionals surveyed, nearly two-thirds (66%) perceived the time spent in meetings as non-value adding. Furthermore, these individuals claimed this factor adversely impacts their productivity. Regrettably, the situation seems to be taking a turn for the worse given that an overwhelming majority (88%) reported experiencing no decrements or even increases in their meeting schedules.

It’s important to clarify that an inefficient 15-minute meeting equates to more than just 15 minutes lost. Instead, the true calculation of time wasted is equivalent to the duration of the meeting multiplied by the number of attendees. Should unproductive meetings become a recurring issue either weekly or monthly, there may be severe implications concerning organisational productivity levels.. The resultant effect could potentially result in significant financial losses detrimental to your company’s bottom line.

Allow us to explore several strategies that offer potential in reclaiming your lost time.

Measure the meetings

Is there an absolute need for a meeting? Would it be feasible to communicate the essential content of your message, or that of an employee’s, through an alternative mode such as email communication, brief face-to-face discourse, or by means of a quick announcement requiring only minimal interruption of office operations? Is there potential utilisation of task management software where others can be efficiently notified about emerging issues or important information updates?

Should you find yourself frequently engaged in meetings with department managers or section supervisors reporting to you, it may suggest an underlying issue: namely, a lack of trust in their ability to perform their roles adequately. Could these regular meetings be symptomatic of micromanagement? Should this be the case, there would be two vital concerns needing attention – A) The individuals occupying those positions may not be best suited for them or B) Your approach to management needs re-evaluation and potential adjustment.

Create an agenda

Should you deem the meeting of absolute imperative, it is highly recommended to articulate your discussion points in written form. It will be beneficial to assign time restraints for each item on the agenda – Topic 1: 5 minutes; Topic 2: 10 minutes; Queries: Allocated Time – Approximately 5 minutes. (Please note that acquiring proficiency in setting precise timeframes may necessitate initial trial and practice.)

Please ensure to distribute either physical or electronic copies of the agenda prior to commencement, or ensure its projection during the meeting for optimal visibility. This approach will allow you to effectively manage the pace and focus of the meeting, emphasising its exclusive relevance to Subject X, thereby minimising potential deviation onto other unrelated topics by your team members.

It is essential to establish a definitive objective for your meeting. The purpose could range from acquainting participants with new equipment, seeking consensus through voting or discussing updates on various business sectors. Regardless of the nature of your meeting, it is imperative that your goal be specific and recognizable.

Only invite the necessary team members

A reduced number of participants ensures more efficient utilisation of the organisation’s time during meetings.

In situations where the meeting includes multiple teams, it is recommended for each group to assign a representative. This approach facilitates streamlined communication and mitigates the likelihood of team members incessantly interjecting or disrupting their colleagues.

Start on time

It is imperative that meetings commence at the allotted time, barring the absence of an indispensable participant. Those who arrive late must take responsibility to update themselves on what they missed. By adhering to this standard, it encourages punctuality among team members and helps avoid potential discomfort caused by tardiness.

Make sure you (or your presenter) is the sole focus of attention

Agendas play a critical role in directing the concentration of all participants. Instating a policy that restricts the use of personal electronic devices like mobile phones or tablets within the meeting room, except when integral to discussions, fortifies this dedication towards the subject matter and enhances overall efficiency.

The prohibition of devices is justified given that requiring their deactivation could potentially result in the loss of critical time as individuals power down their equipment. It would be more judicious and efficacious to disallow such technology within the confines of the meeting room altogether.

Hold meetings outside of company time

The relevance of the following guideline may partially depend on the specificities of your dialogue and the individual temperaments involved. Nonetheless, it is advisable to meticulously plan both the timing and context of your interactions. Should this be feasible without detrimentally impacting operational productivity, such an approach could provide notable advantages. Potential partners, for instance, might be engaged within less formal circumstances such as during a mealtime or whilst participating in leisure activities like golfing. Alternatively, one should consider informal social settings— attending offspring’s minor league games, for example— which facilitate opportunities for casual yet productive discussions.

End with clarity

Regardless of the agenda of your meeting, it is imperative to ascertain that all participants acquire unequivocal comprehension regarding the conclusions reached. This can be accomplished via a succinctly composed email summary, delineating key decisions ratified during the assembly. Additionally, this provides an organised enumeration of action steps agreed upon by team members for implementation. Moreover, it serves as an expedient methodology to acquaint those absent from the meeting with the shifts in or direction of business strategy.

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