How to Ensure Your Meetings Aren’t Deemed A Time Waster

Are your meetings places where minutes are taken and hours wasted?

How successful are your meetings? Do they achieve the desired outcome of discussing ideas and debating issues that drive successful outcomes? What do others think of your meetings?

How to Ensure Your Meetings aren’t deemed A Time Waster

In the United Kingdom the average businessperson sits through 207 meetings a year. and spends the equivalent of five working days getting to them in the first place.

It is estimated that, time spent travelling to and taking part in meetings costs UK SME businesses around £637,000 per annum on meetings or £16,000 per head every year.

So, with meetings taking up so much of our working lives. It’s important to ensure that they are as effective as possible. The following 13 top tips will help you to ensure that your next meeting isn’t a time waster.

Before Meetings

1) Make sure you have a clearly stated purpose for the meeting.

If people aren’t sure what a meeting is for, they may lack motivation for it, or derail it by concentrating on the wrong things. Make sure the purpose is clear and communicated to all.

2) Select an appropriate venue and meeting type.

Ask yourself: do we need to meet face-to-face, or would online or a conference call be just as effective? Does the meeting need to be very formal, with a chairperson and lots of structure, or is it enough just to get together?

3) Clearly communicate the meeting roles.

If there is to be a chair, an organiser or  facilitator, make sure that everyone, not least the people who will fill those roles, are clear who is in each role and what is expected of them.

4) Circulate the agenda and any reading well in advance.

People can contribute much more effectively if they know what will be discussed in the meeting. They can reflect, form opinions and do research in advance.

5) Be thoroughly prepared for the meeting yourself.

It should go without saying that you need to be well prepared, having read any documents that are required, and prepared anything that you need to share during the meeting

During Meetings

6) Set clear ground rules and stick assertively to them.

Challenging behaviour sometimes happens in meetings, but you can minimise it by being clear about the behaviour that is expected. You will also be much better able to tackle unhelpful behaviour assertively if you’ve set expectations in advance.

7) Play your part in ensuring the meeting stays on topic.

Stick to the agenda, keeping any extra items for any other business, or putting them on the agenda for a future meeting.

8) Offer your opinions openly and listen to others.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and say what you think but try to support your views with fact. Listen openly to the ideas of others rather than simply waiting for your own turn to speak.

9) Be open and use questions to understand conflicting views.

When someone’s opinion is in direct conflict with yours, resist the temptation to dig your heels in and argue back harder. Instead, ask questions and explore the other person’s point of view; see whether they have information that you don’t have, and whether there are things you agree on. Summarise back what you’ve heard, acknowledging what you agree on, and discussing possible ways to move forward on the things you don’t agree on.

10) Clarify decisions and actions.

When decisions are reached, check that everyone agrees and make sure they’re recorded. Ensure that someone has taken responsibility for any actions which must be taken, and that this is recorded, so the results can be discussed in future meetings.

After Meetings

11) Ensure that notes or minutes are circulated to all participants and other relevant individuals.

It’s all too easy to forget what was discussed and agreed, so make sure a record of these is sent out.

12) Carry out any actions for which you’ve agreed to be responsible.

Be as good as your word – do what you said you would do.

13) Follow-up.

After a suitable interval, follow-up to ensure people are carrying out the actions that they’ve been assigned.

People often consider meetings to be one of the biggest time wasters within the working environment. But in learning to host more effective meetings you can save time, both yours and other peoples.

If you want regular hints tips and techniques to help you deal with your time wasters join nearly 2000 other small business owners in my free Facebook group, The Time Management Academy

What do you do to ensure your meetings are successful? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Till Next Time

Mike Gardner – The Time Doctor

Mike Gardner aka ‘The Time Doctor’ and is highly regarded as one of the UK’s leading Time Management and productivity specialists. As well as being regularly featured in both online and off-line media outlets around the world, he is the author of the best selling time management book, Business Owners: Your Family Misses You. He regularly speaks on topics that are congruent with his mission of helping small business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to be incredibly productive, whilst still balancing their business and family commitments in a way that enables them to feel fulfilled and guilt-free. He is an avid Aston Villa fan, a Dad to Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role as an Officer with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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6 thoughts on “How to Ensure Your Meetings Aren’t Deemed A Time Waster

  1. Great tips here. It is important that everyone in the meeting has the right mindset and in my opinion the most of important of all is communication. Without proper communication, meetings are definitely a waste of time. Will share this with my colleagues thanks!

  2. This is a great list to ponder on for meetings. I would love to implement this on my team as our meetings get longer as expected getting side tracked by small talks, taken out of focus by bringing up other topics to be discussed later on, and other team members being scared to let out their opinions. I would rather have an argument that having members under my team keeping everything they want to say. Thank you for this source!

  3. It’s interesting that many people see meetings as “a waste of time”, where the intention, I believe, is to move things forward.

    The tips are great and I’ll be sharing them. However I think there may be some work to do BEFORE to understand what a business is wanting to move forward and who it is that will help them to do that.