Too Many Meetings? 4 Ways to Reduce Time Spent in Meetings

Written by Matt Sitter

“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss

In the midst of a hectic day, we’ve all looked up in the afternoon and had the realization that our most precious resource (time) has been unceremoniously taken from us. According to Atlassian, the average employee attends 62 meetings per month and believes about half of that time is wasted. Managers and executives attend even more meetings!

Here are four ways you can cut meetings and get your team’s time back.

1. Create a meeting standard to communicate the 5 Ws

 

A meeting standard makes explicit how participants’ time will be used and provides the discipline to understand how a meeting relates to the organization’s priorities.  It spells out the purpose of the meeting, when and why it occurs, who attends, who owns it, the timeframe focus, as well as prep and expected outputs from the meeting.

The meeting owner can quickly create a specific agenda based on a meeting standard.  An added bonus is that this practice speeds up on-boarding. It helps quickly bring new members of a team up to speed by providing a meaningful map of expectations of how to use time.

2. Repeat the meeting’s objective and its relationship to the organization’s priorities every meeting

This is a quick tactic that takes mere seconds to focus attention. It anchors the team to the reason they are meeting.

If discussion within the meeting deviates from the meeting’s objectives, attendees may be unprepared, the wrong people may present, or the topic could be important enough that it needs to get escalated to a larger group of people. All important things to know!

3. Evaluate your meetings on a routine basis

Organizations and their priorities evolve – what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Routines make life easier, but meetings become stale if they are not scrutinized. Looking at each meeting every 6-12 months and examining their objectives and effectiveness in driving outputs allows you to keep control of the direction your organization takes.

4. Understand and be deliberate about your organization’s Operating Rhythm

An organization’s operating rhythm is its “heartbeat.” It defines how the organization communicates and makes decisions. All organizations have an operating rhythm, but few consciously work to make sure that operating rhythm matches their needs.

Organizations frequently fail to match their time allocation with their priorities. The organization has either multiple meetings to discuss the exact same topic, or no meeting at all! An effective operating rhythm is designed with the organization’s priorities in mind and is forthcoming as well as transparent about what meetings occur when.

This is a difficult step, but yields a great return! Calendar analysis (like that available at Esper.com) can show how your organization and the people in it schedule time. This is a great starting point to meaningfully direct how, when, and for what period you drive action.

Time is one thing that we’re not making any more of – use it the best way you can!

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