If you’re a manager, it’s highly likely that you spend a lot of your time in meetings. And it gets worse the more senior you become: studies have found that middle managers spend about 35 per cent of their time at work in meetings.
When it comes to upper management, meetings account for about half of their time. According to hot desking company Booqued, VPs, directors, and C-level sit in on about 17 meetings a week.
Most people don’t enjoy meetings all that much, either. According to data from Better Meetings, 50 per cent are annoyed by colleagues who interrupt; 49 per cent don’t like it when people don’t listen to the contribution of others, as well as expressing irritation at those being late or leaving early, while 46 per cent hate it when people ramble on.
The pandemic made the meeting issue worse, with endless video calls that could have been an email, and that hasn’t really changed since many workers headed back into the office.
So there has to be a way to make meetings better, right? Shopify is one tech company seeking to do just that. Following layoffs, chief executive Tobias Lütke looked at changes around productivity and focus––one of which was meetings.
In January 2023, staff were told to cancel all recurring meetings involving more than three people. More changes came in the form of leaving Wednesdays completely meeting-free, and large meetings with more than 50 staff now happen on Thursdays.
If you’re fed up with the endless onslaught of meetings, having the problem acknowledged at leadership level is helpful as a starting point to fix it.
But if that’s not a goer and you are finding, as a manager, that your meetings are more time-sucking than they are top-notch, then these tips should help.
Put a time limit on meetings
Most meetings take between 31 and 60 minutes, but with the average attention span at just 10 to 18 minutes, it makes sense to cut them down.
Always have an agenda
One super-simple way to make sure your meeting runs smoothly – and quickly – is to have an agenda. Define it beforehand, and don’t deviate.
Instil a culture of preparedness
Once your agenda is circulated, make it known that anyone who needs to contribute to the meeting comes to it fully prepared with all relevant information – further speeding up efficiency.
Don’t invite people if they don’t need to be there
Meeting invites can span multitudes and often employees are added to meetings in which they have no stake or need to provide input. This is a waste of their time and yours.
Ensure meetings start on time
You’ve sent an email, scheduled a time and location, and sent the agenda in advance. Everyone is well aware of what’s required and so if there are latecomers, don’t delay your meeting start, begin and it will be up to them to catch up. They’ll soon get the picture.
However, if you have tried all of these tactics and meetings are still messy and unproductive, it could be time to make a move to a company where meeting etiquette is more in line with you.
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Article written by Kirstie McDermott at Amply