Meetings can take a lot of time if we let them, but these tips will help keep employees focused and engaged as they unload their day.
We’ve all been in meetings where we’re thinking, “Maybe that was an email.” We’ve also been in meetings that have every right to be meetings but should have ended 20 minutes earlier.
With more meetings taking place through online platforms like Zoom and Teams, keeping employees engaged during meetings is more important than ever.
Earlier this year, workplace management platform Asana surveyed more than 10,000 employees globally as part of its annual business. labor anatomy index.
The survey found that managers lose up to 62 percent of their workdays to “work around work,” while 24 percent of workers believe that too many meetings directly lead to missed deadlines.
Moreover, nearly half of respondents said that more efficient meetings can reduce notifications, while 33% of workers admitted that their attention span is shorter than it was a year ago.
All of this points to the need to really think about the work that requires the meeting, and for the meetings that do take place, a more efficient approach is needed.
While many companies choose to hold stand-up meetings when you are in person to help reduce the time you spend in them, you may be looking for ways to replicate this quick meeting of hybrid workers and remote workers.
Start with an agenda
First, when setting up a meeting, you should know exactly what goals you are trying to achieve in the meeting and set a clear agenda accordingly. Think about the questions you want answered and the problems you want to solve.
It’s also worth considering the order in which you take your discussions. Many people start with “housekeeping” tasks like team updates, and end up with bigger brainstorming points. Consider flipping this so that the deeper conversations occur initially when the energy is high.
Set time limits for each topic
To avoid getting caught up in one topic on the agenda, consider how much time you want to devote to each discussion and add these timings to the agenda.
Not only will this give you a realistic idea of how long the meeting should take, but it will help you keep track of any conversations going on in the rabbit hole.
Don’t be afraid to turn it off
The broader nature of brainstorming and discussions may mean that a particular topic may take longer than you originally planned. To avoid prolonging the planned meeting too much, you have two options.
First, don’t be afraid to ask for time in a discussion that’s been going on for a long time, put a pin in it, and make a plan to discuss it again. Alternatively, you can reevaluate your agenda and decide to stop another discussion for a later date and give that extra time to the topic at hand.
Start at an unusual time
Most meetings start either around the clock or half an hour later. This makes it more tempting to book 30 minutes out of 60 minutes for a meeting without thinking too much about how much time is actually required.
Once you’ve mapped out your agenda and determined how much time you need for the full meeting, you may find that you only need 40 minutes instead of an hour, or even 15 minutes instead of half an hour.
With this in mind, schedule your 40-minute meeting at 2.20 p.m. instead of 2 p.m. This way, you’ll strive to finish at 3 p.m. instead of leaving your meeting at 2 p.m. for an extra 20 minutes.
Make shorter meetings their own goal
Quietly taking action to make meetings more effective can be helpful, but stating it out loud as a team-wide goal will create more accountability and keep other employees focused.
One way to keep employees engaged during meetings is to assign tasks all the time such as taking notes or logging updates.
When creating a goal for shorter meetings, a team member can be the timekeeper so that the host can focus on the discussion points themselves and feel confident that the timekeeper will prevent the meeting from getting off track.
No really, could this be an email?
Before you open this calendar, review your meeting goals and agenda again and really think about whether or not the meeting needs to be held.
Think about whether or not every member of the team needs to be there. Do you have actual questions to answer or points for discussion? Or do you just need updates on where certain tasks are?
If the only items on your agenda are questions that can be resolved via asynchronous methods such as a group email, shared document, or instant message, it may be worth canceling the meeting.
Save meetings for important discussion points, brainstorming sessions, and larger updates that may require some time for questions.
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