According to a recent survey, the average worker in the UK spends 213 hours a year – 26 working days – in meetings. Importantly, it’s also thought that at least a third of that time is wasted.
But meetings don’t have to be an unproductive, jargon-fuelled yawn. A spot of planning and innovation can ensure the meetings you do have are efficient, effective and empowering. We’ve come up with some useful tips to help make you make your meetings as productive as possible.
1. Is it really necessary? Ask yourself what the meeting is for, and why it has to happen now. Is it being held because ‘we’ve always done it that way’? Consider if you need the whole team or can free up members to get on with other vital tasks if the agenda doesn’t concern them. Plus, is gathering round a table the most efficient way to communicate your information? Maybe all it needs is a well-worded email, verbal announcement or internal message post.
2. Require participation. A great way to ensure you get maximum engagement in meetings is requiring participation in some way. This can include asking people to prepare a point beforehand, or calling on individuals during the meeting.
3. Invite a small group. Generally speaking, meetings of more than 7-8 people are hectic and ineffective. In a meeting of this size, would all discussions matter to everyone? If not, it’s a waste of those people’s time. If you need to have a meeting between teams, just invite one spokesperson per team to ensure that the meeting stays on-track.
4. Set up in advance. The meeting survey, commissioned by design company Moo, found the biggest time-waster was waiting for people to arrive, with setting up technology a close second. Avoid this by booking a dedicated meeting room with call conferencing facilities for those working from home or victim to commuting delays. Setting up technology before the start time will help you make meetings more productive.
5. Make it a great meeting environment. Have you thought of ‘meeting hygiene’? No, this isn’t making sure Bill in accounts has washed this week. It’s simply ensuring the space you use is big enough, comfortable, ventilated, well lit – natural light if possible, and maybe even has water available to keep people hydrated and alert.
6. Set your agenda. Having an agenda with a time limit and clear action points will focus minds – and help members plan the rest of their day and duties. People talking over one another is not conducive to an effective meeting; so sketching out some ground rules may help make your meeting go more smoothly and encourage participation.
7. Operate a no-phone policy. People check their phones to combat boredom, and it’s no different in meetings. So insist devices are left on desks or collected in a ‘technology bucket’ until the end of the session to help you make meetings more productive.
8. Make it interesting. If you want to increase productivity in meetings, make them interesting. We’re not asking you to be The Greatest Showman but make it a positive experience rather than an ordeal. Don’t do all the talking – invite input to create an empowering space for all. If your staff feel valued, they’ll want to take part again.
9. Change the location. If you have the time, why not swap where your meeting takes place? Work.Life members are free to use any and all of our spaces, so if you’re trying to make meetings more productive, why not mix it up and book a meeting room somewhere new?
10. The shorter, the better. Why have a 2-hour meeting when it could be done in 30 minutes? With a clear agenda, smaller number of people, and no distractions, it’s possible to run your meeting in super-speedy turnaround. This will give your team more time to focus on their own work.
Thanks to Work.Life locations across the UK, there’s always a convenient space to host a meeting. We have small and large spaces for every need, and technology to help you communicate your agenda in the clearest way. Plus, our online booking keeps it hassle-free for members. Free refreshments help keep people on the ball, including free pizza on Thursdays. Non-members are also welcome to book a meeting space – an ideal way to experience what we offer. To browse or reserve one of our meeting rooms, click here.