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The best way to tell if your meetings are productive

The best way to tell if your meetings are productive

Recent research by OfficeTime.net into the top-five office time killers found that 34% of time wasted was in meetings.

Just under half – 49% – of people surveyed said they spent a minimum of one hour in meetings each day. My corporate experience suggests people are very lucky to only spend an hour a day.

Have a look in your calendar for this week. Add up your total work hours and then divide by the amount of time you spend in meetings. For some people, this exercise in itself is a catalyst for change.

That been said, no matter what stats you read and what type of company you work for, meetings are an important part of the fabric of corporate society, and they are difficult to avoid. The mix of virtual meetings is increasing in some industries and companies, however the core principles are the same. Social media is ever-present in our lives and may replace the traditional meeting structure in the future, however I would like to help you NOW.

So how can you tell if your meeting is productive or not?

One technique I have used with clients is recording the agenda items against the time-matrix principles. For those you are not familiar with the time matrix, this is what it looks like:

 

H = High and L = Low.

 

So how is it applied? First you need to build a common language and understanding around the tool. Introduce it and have a group discussion around common tasks for your team and which quadrants they might belong in.

From experience, this will bring to the surface some great discussions, and it’ll also uncover some role ambiguities. What is considered a Q1 for one person may well be a Q3 for someone else. 

Once you feel your team is familiar enough with the tool, apply it to some of your regular meetings. 

During the meeting, as agenda items come up, allocate the item to a quadrant by discussing it as a team. Typically you find many Q3 and Q4s with few Q2s. 

If the group enjoys the framework, you can apply it to other meetings. It is best suited for team meetings that are recurring, where people are familiar with one another.

Some other tips for effective meetings:

> Change your default meeting time to 30 minutes

Introduce standing-only meetings (studies say you think 7% better on your feet)

Circulate the agenda prior to the meeting for input

Set objectives at the start of the meeting

Focus on more action, less discussion

Invite the right people

Stipulate only note-taking devices be brought along

List the top three actions

Allow 15 minutes between meetings to complete the top three actions, have some water (the brain is 80% water) and get to your next meeting on time.

For many corporate people, meetings occupy a lot of your productive time. Invest a little time (Q2) in improving your meetings and see the benefits. 

Paul Higgins

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Paul Higgins is an expert in smartsourcing and outsourcing, a thought leader and coach. He specialises in smart assistants, workflow design and user technology.
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