How to Make Meetings Work for You

Boardroom MeetingLet’s face it: some meetings waste time. Those long meetings you hold every Monday at the conference room, complete with the projector and microphone, may take up to three or four hours to finish. By that time, half your attendees are stifling yawns, and half are wondering what to have for lunch.

Most people have a 15-minute attention span for listening to somebody speaking without drifting off. Imagine having to sit through a four-hour meeting. How much input can you expect from someone bored out of his or her wits, or how much creativity do you think this encourages?

You can’t entirely remove meetings from work; they go together like late afternoons and coffee spoons. But like the spoon you use to stir your coffee, you still have to limit the time you spend on meetings. At the very least, make your meetings more interesting. Here are a few ways to remove the boredom and make your meetings actually useful.

Walk Around

You can have a meeting with one or two people while walking, say, from your office to the production floor. Too short? That’s the point. A three-minute meeting might actually get you somewhere, instead of a three-hour snore fest, half of which is spent bickering or gossiping.

Call Only the People You Need

The sales manager comes into your office with a sales supervisor who has the leading salesperson in tow. In a meeting of ten people, only about one or two will do the talking. That means the remaining eight would have better use of their time for, say, doing actual work. Now imagine all those ten walking with you on your way to the production floor; you can almost picture a field trip. Call only the people you need to meet with. Don’t waste an entire department’s time.

Take Your Meeting Elsewhere

It’s especially effective to meet somewhere outside the office if you are looking for creativity. People feel, act, and think according in part, to where they are. This also works if you want to keep the meeting private, such as if you have to discuss sensitive matters. That new Community Center in Cavite is a better choice than the corner office. A short drive later, you and your employees are feeling more relaxed; ideas are flowing; and there is less stress, which is how meetings should be if you want them to be more productive.

Use Email and Video Conferencing

Many managers would call a 30-minute meeting because they came up with a new idea for the sales event. You can use email for this. It takes only a few minutes to send the email to the parties involved. They can email back with their own suggestions and comments. This saves valuable time; you can always have short meetings on Skype if it’s a must.

Meetings don’t have to be the enemy. You just have to make better use of them and keep them brief. You’ll see how much time you’ve been wasting before when you turn your meetings into shorter, scarcer, and more productive ones.

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