Studies show that the average employee spends approximately six hours each week in meetings and senior level professionals can spend up to 85% of their total work time in scheduled meetings.

The infographic below highlights some of the downsides of numerous meetings from studies done in the U.S.

http://visual.ly/ugly-truth-about-meetings

However, if meetings could be truly productive, would employees and management be able to spend significantly less time or get more accomplished in attending them?

In this issue, we share insights to this question and some secrets to super productive meetings that could make the best use of one of your company’s most valued resource – your employees’ time.

Causes and costs of unproductive meetings

The three most common causes of unproductive meetings are found to be:

Multitasking

During meetings, it is not uncommon for many attendees to be checking emails and engaging in other work-related activities. These distractions result in the meeting exceeding the original scheduled time and causes attendees to further lose focus. When focus is lost, the objectives of the meeting are typically lost too!

Lack of engagement

among remote attendees. 80% of the communication is non-verbal. However, if remote meeting attendees are unable to see those whom they are speaking and interacting with, it can be exceptionally challenging to reach a satisfactory level of engagement.

General lack of planning and an absence of structure

When these two important elements are missing, a meeting generally lacks effectiveness and may ultimately fail to achieve the intended and desired outcome of the meeting.

According to a study by Group Vision, many of the companies on the Fortune 500 list spend and waste approximately USD75 million each year on unproductive meetings. Despite their standing on this list, can any of these businesses afford to waste this much money each year?

Can yours?

Tips for super productive meetings

Here’s a list to optimise the effectiveness of every meeting in your company.

#1 – Create and Publish an Agenda

The agenda should outline the exact topics and issues to be discussed, with the appropriate duration for each item. An agenda will also help ensure that only the right people are in attendance at the right time. In addition, schedule regular breaks so that the attendees may come and go according to what is relevant, important or necessary to them, without disrupting the entire meeting.

#2 – Initiate the Meeting at the Time Stated in Your Agenda

If you desire to have a productive meeting, it is essential that you initiate the meeting at the time that was stated in the agenda. If you fail to start at the stated time, it is quite possible that the overall effectiveness and the general quality of the meeting will deteriorate.

#3 – Provide Regular Summaries throughout the Meeting

By periodically reviewing what has been covered in the meeting and requesting that the attendees summarise the information, you ensure that everyone has the same level of understanding. If it is found that someone lacks a clear level of understanding, you can quickly bring them up to speed before moving on to the next agenda item.

#4 – Delegate

A sign of a true leader is the ability to delegate. The same holds true for productive meetings. When hosting meetings, you should delegate certain tasks to those who will be in attendance. Before the meeting, determine each attendee’s unique strength, talent or skill and find a way to maximise those during the meeting. This will help keep everyone alert and engaged throughout the meeting.

#5 – Ask the Right Questions

Inform your attendees that you will be asking questions at random times throughout the meeting. This will keep people alert and ensure that everyone is focusing on the task at hand, instead of other tasks. At all times, ask open-ended questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” response.

#6 – Utilise Various Technologies

Today, with more meetings taking place ‘virtually’, one of the more effective uses of technology for meetings is video conferencing. As mentioned earlier, attendees in phone-based meetings are more likely to become distracted and end up multitasking. However, those that participate in meetings via video conferencing are less likely to engage in other tasks. Video-based meetings have been proven to improve the focus of attendees and optimise engagement. Any type of decision-making is also instantly enhanced. Additionally, teams that utilise video conferencing often find that their team productivity is enhanced.

http://visual.ly/ugly-truth-about-meetings

Using Various Technologies in Meetings

The trend known as “BYOD” or “Bring Your Own Devices” is gaining an immense amount of popularity among professionals. Approximately 83% of all managers use their own laptops to share information within meetings, 53% use a tablet and 41% use a smartphone. If only one electronic device is being used to share information in a meeting room among many, it takes more time for that information to be viewed by all. If attendees are able to connect wirelessly to a display or projection unit being used in the meeting, this would help move the meeting along more quickly and encourage participation at a faster rate.

One of the most effective means of optimising collaboration is through a programme called “ClickShare”. Not only is this collaboration system exceptionally easy to use, but it is easy to set up, connects a wide array of devices with exceptional speed, and keeps all information secure. It also eliminates the need to have an on-site technician to assist with the meetings.

In addition to “ClickShare”, there are other programmes such as “LessMeeting”, “UberConference”, “iMeet” and “Zoho”. If you want to increase productivity and optimise participation, while saving on costs, these digital products or similar are necessary for virtual meetings.

Reclaim Control of Your Meetings Today

Remember that your meeting should always have a clearly defined agenda, a set time, a specific action or set of actions that should be completed, and end on time. Meetings should only be held when necessary and have the “right” people invited to attend for the specific agenda item. In addition, consider integrating technology such as video conferencing or other collaboration systems into your meetings and you may find that your attendees are more focused and engaged whether they are attending in person or remotely.

Use the following checklist as a useful guide on conducting productive meetings.

What to do Before a Meeting What to do During a Meeting What to do After a Meeting
  1. Clarify purpose and aims
  2. Create an agenda
  3. Schedule the meeting
  4. Post and send out agenda
  5. Circulate supporting information
  6. Make room arrangements
  7. Arrange for recorder
  1. Start on time
  2. Ensure a quorum
  3. Review agenda
  4. Keep discussion focused
  5. Encourage participation
  6. Help group come to decisions
  7. Summarise decisions
  8. Agree on action plan
  9. Draft agenda for next meeting(s)
  10. Evaluate meeting
  1. Distribute minutes
  2. Archive meeting documents
  3. Check for action

http://quality.wisc.edu/before-a-meeting.htm

By committing to and taking affirmative action toward organising more effective meetings that actually generate the results you want in significantly lesser time, you and your business will essentially be accomplishing more with the same resources!

Need help for a highly engaging and productive meeting?

Contact Facilitators Network Singapore at admin@fns.sg for more information.