Why meetings are never a waste of time

In this modern world of video conferencing and remote working, face-to-face meetings have fallen out of favour in many workplaces.

Some business leaders think they’re a waste of time and employees often feel relieved when they are cancelled.

If this is your attitude towards meetings, it’s time to stop and rethink your strategy! Meetings are not a waste of time when they’re planned and conducted properly and the action points that have been discussed are followed through. People are labelling them a waste of time before looking at the positives a meeting can bring.

A product of meetings that have lacked direction, the anti-meeting mindset is misguided, lulling delegates into feeling like it could have all been dealt with by email. With the coronavirus pandemic still affecting businesses, this isn’t the time for managers to become further disconnected from their teams.

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While virtual venues are enabling discussion and collaboration, nothing can replace the progress made in face-to-face meetings. This is a good time to plan ahead and devise strategies to make sure your meetings are NEVER a waste of time when they resume in person!

Hopefully, the one good thing to come out of the lockdown is the fact that more companies might have realised the value of productive meetings to exchange ideas, collaborate and plan future strategies.

Once workplaces are back to normal (or at least the “new normal”), the meetings culture that has been vital to keeping people in touch since March will continue into the physical office. People who had been unfamiliar with meetings will now know how productive and efficient a well-planned and well-organised meeting can be.

What’s the key to success?
Meetings that are a “one-way street” can end up feeling unsatisfying for everyone in attendance. While employees might feel initially encouraged to share updates on their projects, those chairing the meetings may stifle debate and feedback from other delegates by taking over and talking continually.

Attendees left sitting around the table with little to do, other than listen, end up zoning out and thinking what a waste of time it is and that they could be doing something else. A survey by project management software developer Clarizen revealed almost 50% of employees would rather be doing just about anything else, other than attending a meeting where one speaker is merely giving a status update.

The whole purpose of a meeting is to enable attendees to communicate with each other, collaborate on projects and get input from colleagues. When the whole team gets together, a better solution emerges and everyone in the company becomes more aligned.

How can you make any meeting productive?
So just how can you ensure no-one is sitting there thinking you’re wasting their time? In the famous words of the Boy Scouts, “Be prepared!” The original “be prepared” motto meant making sure everyone was “in a state of readiness, in mind and body, to do your duty”. This is a pretty apt way of summing up how we should prepare for a meeting.

This means setting an agenda before every meeting and distributing it ahead of time, asking attendees to do their homework and make sure they’re prepared too. Not only do you need to have your physical items ready such as project notes, figures, images, diagrams, updates and anything else that’s relevant; you also need to be switched-on and prepared mentally.

Arrive thinking of how YOU can contribute towards making the meeting useful and productive, rather than expecting to sit back and let others do the talking. It’s not the time to play catch-up when you arrive. Instead, you should have an understanding of the items on the agenda beforehand, so you’re not wasting half the meeting getting up to speed. This gives everyone more time for innovating and brainstorming – the most productive parts of any meeting.

Make the meeting useful for everyone
When organising a meeting, look at it from the point of view of everyone involved including employees, managing directors, clients, contractors and any other person who will be affected by its outcome. Even if they’re not all present at any one time, minutes of the meeting will be distributed afterwards and must be relevant to all.

Meetings in person should encourage social interaction, keeping everyone in the loop, progressing your business’s projects to attain goals and setting an agenda for the future. Every individual, at each level within the company, needs to find the information relevant to their particular role in the business as a whole.

Create clear ground rules before you start and make sure your team understands and upholds these standards. At the very least, everyone should be punctual, as arriving late is incredibly disruptive.

When you’ve discussed the business in hand and the meeting is about to conclude, finish on an action plan. Every person should know their role and what’s expected of them before the next meeting. Make sure each role is defined, so you don’t end up with several people working on the same tasks.

Making meetings safe
&Meetings is creating a safe meeting environment, with the help of our own in-house cleaning division, which devotes 150,000 hours a year to continually cleaning our centres during the day and night.

Book your meeting room now for your future gatherings – don’t leave it too late! Give us a call on 0800 073 0499 for further information.

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