December 20, 2017 Meeting in 2018
How much time do we waste in meetings; 25%, 50%, all of it? A quick trawl of the internet indicates that when it comes to productive meeting time it’s a question of ‘you pays your money and takes your pick.’ However, one thing that the surveys and articles all agree on is that in general the meeting report card reads could do better.
Why is it so hard to quantify the amount of time wasted? Well for a start it isn’t always easy to pin down productive and unproductive time. For example, it could be argued that that informal chat which started while waiting for everyone to turn up the meeting could just form the basis for a new approach or strengthen interdepartmental cooperation. Maybe the meeting was the first time those individuals had managed to get together in a while but if that’s the case then perhaps the organisation should be looking towards promoting informal gatherings, rather than imposing on time allocated to a formal meeting.
Informal chats aside, what are the top tips for successful meetings? Let’s start with good preparation and setting a clear agenda. In other words, know what the meeting is about, only invite those who can actively contribute to the discussion and ensure that where necessary full briefing notes are supplied well in advance. That way, attendees should turn up to the meeting prepared and ready to participate in an active discussion.
This brings us on to the next top tip, moderating and controlling the meeting. Chairing a meeting is an art in itself. It requires tact, diplomacy and firmness; giving all attendees a chance to air their point of view and mediating in order to achieve informed consensus. With this in mind, organisations will do well to ensure that they arrange for specific training for those required to chair meetings, or alternatively bring in an experienced external moderator.
Finally, meetings are nothing without focused attention on follow-up actions. This means that minutes should be drawn up as soon as practicable after the meeting and an individual appointed to monitor and moderate agreed action points. This will help to ensure that when the next meeting comes around the project process has moved on rather than having been submerged in the day-to-day life of the organisation.
As we write we are rapidly approaching the end of the year and the time for New Year resolutions is almost upon us. Businesses drawing up their plans and strategies for 2018 will have plenty to occupy them, not least the potential implications of Brexit. So let’s aim to claw back time in one area at least and make 2018 the year of the productive meeting.