Workplace studies show that most of us aren’t fully engaged during work meetings. On average, 91% of us daydream during meetings and a surprising 39% admit to falling asleep. Maybe that’s because we have too many meetings on our calendars: Americans attend an average of 60+ meetings each month; and with half of every meeting flagged as wasted time, that equals 31 unproductive hours per month. That’s a lot of lost time—and money.
But, the fact remains that internal business meetings are essential for gathering people together to share ideas, garner input and solve problems. So, how we do we make meetings more productive? Author, radio host and business guru, Dave Ramsey, offers some advice that I think is worth sharing. Here’s a quick summary of his four pointers for effective meetings:
- Set A Time Limit. We’ve all been there: The runaway meeting that goes on and on, taking twice as long as necessary. This is why every meeting requires a set time limit. Then, if the discussion gets off-track, you can remind everyone that time is limited. If an issue isn’t resolved or needs more attention, delegate: Assign someone to work on it and report back. Then, more on.
- Stick To An Agenda. Productive meetings require a framework: Set an agenda and send it to all participants in advance so that they can prepare. And then once the meeting begins, stick to it. A set agenda keeps the discussion on-topic and on-task.
- Stand Your Ground. Ramsey says that if team members aren’t picking up verbal cues that a meeting is over, simply stand up. If that doesn’t work, head towards the door.
- Change The Scenery. Spark your team’s creativity by trying different locations for meetings. Move out of the conference room and take it outside or head to the corner coffee shop; set up your brainstorming session in the warehouse or meet in your company lounge. Why not solicit ideas from your team? A change in locale is a great way to mix things up and engage participants, particularly for a regularly scheduled/standing meeting.
Work meetings aren’t going anywhere—they are a necessary part of everyday operations for many of our businesses. Implementing these simple, practical ideas can help you make those sessions more productive, and even, enjoyable.
For sales meetings, the approach is slightly different—next week I’ll share my tips for making the most out of your next sales call.