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Seven Ways to Kill Your Meetings and Unleash Productivity

Seven Ways to Kill Your Meetings and Unleash ProductivityHave you been wondering how to get more work out of your staff? There's one easy way: Stop having meetings. Unnecessary meetings cost the U.S. economy $37 billion a year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics once estimated.

As Copyblogger's Sonia Simone recently commented, "When multiple times a month, I get an auto-reply saying 'I'm in an all-day meeting,' your company is broken."

Nobody loves to go to meetings, except maybe deadwood employees who're looking for a way to avoid their tasks. The basic fact is that while workers are in meetings, they are not accomplishing their work. 

Still, we can't kick the meeting habit. Despite all the statistics that show meetings are a colossal waste of time, they continue to be scheduled -- some three billion of them annually, by some estimates. And yet sometimes we need teams of people to coordinate what they're doing, or to plan something that needs to happen.

The good news is, there are ways to get this done while spending a lot less time in meetings. Here are seven suggestions:

1. Have a limited, focused agenda. Meetings that ramble on or try to tackle too much end up a confusing, unproductive, overlong mess. Don't try to solve all your company's problems at one meeting. Instead, keep it to one theme and leave other topics for another time.

2. Reconsider regularly scheduled meetings. Maybe that regular weekly staff meeting could be a biweekly or monthly meeting, if there aren't so many pressing issues to discuss.

3. Cut the attendee list. Consider carefully who really needs to be at a meeting, and let everyone else skip it. Send them a memo afterwards if they need to be in the loop.

4. Shorten the timeframe. Think hard before scheduling a meeting to run over an hour. Most participants will be completely glazed at that point and won't absorb much more.

5. Use the internet. Instead of assembling everyone at once, which is bound to be inconvenient for some participants, use a platform such as Campfire to collaborate and share views. Many training meetings can be abolished in favor of online-based trainings workers take when it fits their schedule.

6. Send a memo. If the meeting is simply to impart new policies or plans, make a video explaining it, write a post for the company blog or send a good old-fashioned memo.

7. Reinvent your meetings.  If workers are snoozing at your meetings, you can learn to make your meetings engaging and useful. There's even a new book, The Culture Game, on how to make meetings productive.

How does your company cut down on meetings? Leave a comment and add to our list.

Carol Tice, a freelance writer, is chief executive of TiceWrites Inc. in Bainbridge Island, Wash. She blogs about freelance writing at Make a Living Writing. Email her at carol@caroltice.com.

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