Tired of meetings? This is how you finally make them productive

Tired of meetings? This is how you finally make them productive

Spending hours in meetings you mostly hate to participate on? This is how you make working in a team fun again and more effective.

Recently we wrote about why work meetings are mostly overrated and often rather an annoyance for everybody involved. “A person with the power to call a meeting often does so to display that power,” adds the American blogger known as the Jackal. Indeed most meetings could be arranged in a narrower circle and even eliminated if you communicate and share things more effectively.  

Yet some tasks are best dealt with in a group of people. They provide employees a way to communicate their ideas and get instant feedback. And often you get valuable kickoffs to further develop your concept you wouldn't have thought of yourself. If meetings are done right they are a great source of inspiration and ideas.

Most meetings fail because of these mistakes:

  • The participants and especially those who lead the pack are insufficiently prepared
  • People have been invited who needn't to be involved or are under-informed
  • The discussion lacks a clear leader and structure  
  • The expected outcome or goal of the meeting isn't defined well enough
  • It remains unclear how to proceed with the task

Thus if your meeting is to be successful you have to properly prepare it. Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer recalls she had up to seventy meetings in a week years ago when she worked at Google. She issued the rule a meeting has to have a clear structure before she considers to attend it. This way everybody came well prepared and meetings became shorter while being more effective than ever before.

Also an “official” protocol should put down what was said and done. Notes made by the participants may enhance the document that can be used to further follow the work on individual tasks as well. A quick follow-up is also important to make sure everybody understood the problem and their tasks properly.

It's very important to also maintain certain good manners of communication. You don't want to actively participate in a meeting when it's all about endless monologues and egos going wild. In an effective meeting everybody may get the same deal of attention and those who belittle others are being cut off.

It's obvious that we send more and more time in meetings. It's up to us if it's time wasted or spent the most effectively. With proper preparation and structuring we can easily achieve the latter.

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