Professionals are estimated to spend between 25% to 60% of their time in meetings and of that, 50% is unproductive. If these figures hit home with you, here are some ways to shorten the time you spend meeting and improve the usefulness of those you do hold.
- Have a clear purpose. Know what you want to accomplish. Define the meeting's objective and plan to reach it--a meeting without an objective is a waste of time.
- Is a meeting necessary? Can your objective be accomplished without a meeting? Is a meeting the best use of your time? Objectives can often be achieved in a brief telephone conference call instead of an in-person meeting.
- Keep it small. Invite only people who are essential to accomplishing your purpose. Large groups inhibit the flow of ideas and slow the pace of real accomplishment.
- Keep it short. Meetings should never last more than an hour; shorter is better.
- Make an agenda. A written agenda will keep attention focused, save time, and get results. Avoid unfocused, rambling sessions.
- Communicate the purpose. Inform participants as to the meeting's purpose beforehand in a short e-mail memo or in an introductory paragraph to the meeting's agenda. State the meeting's objective, issues to be discussed, time to begin and end, the place, names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers of participants, any preparation needed, and items and information to bring along.
- Start early. Call the meeting for first thing in the morning so
that people can stop on their way to work, before they fall behind in
the day's schedule or get bogged down in problems at their own offices.
- Cool air, bright lights. People are more alert in a cool room with bright lighting.
a good seat. When you're running the meeting, sit in the "power seat,"
that is, at a point on the table farthest from the door where everyone
can see and hear you. To be an effective meeting participant, sit
opposite the meeting leader so that you can talk directly to her and
also establish good visual contact with other participants.