Meetings are not the most exciting topic when it comes to working. In a perfect world, it would be nice to have fewer to no meetings, but that won’t change anytime soon. Though a lot of meetings can be a waste of time, there are better ways to make them your most valuable time. Understanding how to run an effective business meeting is useful if you’re a leader or someone who coordinates meetings.
In this post, I will discuss how much time is generally spent in meetings. Along with that, I will go over some best practices on how to run the best business meetings possible.
How much time do people spend in meetings?
Not a lot of workers spent a large chunk of their time in meetings. However, if you’re in a management position, the chances are you’re most likely attending meetings as part of your role.
It’s very common to see this pattern if you work in a corporate work environment. As a matter of fact, here are some statistics showing who spends more time in meetings each week:
- Middle management position (i.e. supervisors, floor managers): Spend about 35% of the time in meetings each week
- Upper management (i.e. executive directors, managing directors): Spend about 50% of their time in meetings every week
- CEOS: Spend around 72% of the time in meetings
It’s easy to understand why that may be the case: Meetings involve individuals who play critical roles in the success of a company. But still, it’s a lot of time and energy that goes into attending meetings.
Although meetings are a necessary evil sometimes, there are ways to run them more effectively. If the goal is to make them efficient and much shorter, the following strategies can help run the best meetings.
- Plan & Prepare Ahead Of Time
- Discuss The Purpose Of The Meeting
- Bring On Fewer Attendees In A Meeting
- Have Everyone’s Attention (And Remove Distractions)
- Allow Everyone To Participate
- Change Up Meeting Locations
- Leave Questions And Comments Near The End Of The Meeting
- Follow-Up With Actionable Items
- Ask For Feedback On How Meetings Went Well
Plan & prepare ahead of time
Planning is a key component of making a meeting run as smoothly as possible. If you clearly know which topics you’re going to address, the more likely the meetings will turn out well.
Prior to having a meeting, make sure to communicate with those attending on what will be discussed ahead. For example, if a meeting is going to cover marketing strategies, the people attending should be working in your marketing department. Or, have people who are interested in bringing up better ideas to promote the business.
Discuss the purpose of the meeting
Every time a meeting starts, lay out the purpose of the meeting in general. So ask yourself:
- What is the top priority you want to talk about in that meeting?
When you’ve identified that, explain in one sentence that everyone will understand (or get straight to the point).
During the meeting, talk about what you want to accomplish in that time allotted with the attendees. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Did the participants (or you) agree that a meeting was necessary? If not, what alternatives could you have done instead of a meeting?
- What do you ultimately want to accomplish out of the meeting?
- Will a follow-up be needed after the meeting is over? Or, will you request from the attendees to take further action? Or assign tasks to them?
Bring on fewer attendees in a meeting
Sometimes, meetings are better by having fewer people attending. It’s not always necessary to invite a bunch of people, especially if their input is not needed. So why waste other people’s time?
Knowing who to bring into meetings helps bring the right perspectives on the topics being discussed. If you have the right people who are knowledgeable on the topic, the more likely they’ll engage and make the meetings more productive.
Have everyone’s attention (and remove distractions)
When kicking off a meeting, remind everyone to listen and remain focused. By letting everyone get your full attention, you’re letting them know you’re serious.
Also, remind everyone to put their electronics away. Whether that’s cell phones or laptops, they can be very huge distractions.
If you don’t put it out at the start of a meeting, people may get bored sometimes. Just seeing someone check their phone in between shows they’re not fully engaged and listening to you.
Allow everyone to participate
If someone attends a meeting, make it clear that the individual is expected to participate. The whole idea of going to a meeting is to engage in the topics discussed.
Along with being engaging, it helps someone to follow up with meaningful questions. In some manner, it helps that they are conversational and simple to follow. If thoughtful questions are being brought up, it shows that an individual wants to understand the topic more in-depth.
Change up meeting locations
Sometimes, it helps to not always meet at the same place (i.e. standard conference room). So meeting at different places helps break it up every once in a while.
Meeting in different spots can help boost creativity, which can make meetings more engaging. If meetings are supposed to come up with better solutions, why not bring in that creativity juice in an individual?
One problem with Zoom meetings
Throughout 2020 and 2021, many people had to adjust to doing virtual meetings for work. Although it was the best alternative, having virtual meetings became tiresome for some people.
That’s why people experienced something called Zoom fatigue, where people were experiencing physical doing meetings on computer screens. But also, just doing it in the same spot got a lot of people bored of attending virtual meetings.
That’s why I bring up the idea of changing it at times. Meetings can now be held at the office, remotely, or even in a rental workspace (such as WeWork).
Leave questions and comments near the end
It may be tempting to do this in the middle of a meeting, but holding questions toward the end can be better time-wise. It’s another way to be efficient with time, rather than have a person or two bring up questions in-between.
A best practice I can give is getting through the primary points first, then leaving time in the end for questions and answers (Q & A’s). If you can get through what needs to be addressed first, it’ll make a meeting much more efficient (and quicker as well).
Follow-up with actionable items
If needed, assign tasks and responsibilities to those who are best suited for those tasks. Prior to a future meeting, make sure to set deadlines so that they can get done in a timely manner.
For example, if you’re working on a new project that may take a few weeks, set actionable tasks and put deadlines in place. It’s good to hold others accountable if you expect them to complete work on time.
Ask for feedback on how meetings went overall
Once a meeting is over, ask the participants for feedback and what thoughts they have in mind. Some questions you can address to them include the following:
- How did the meeting go? Did you expect it to be what was on the agenda?
- What could have been better?
- Is there anything we missed that should have been brought up in the meeting?
- How can we improve meetings to make them better use of your time?
It’s nice that there are options to ask for feedback. For example, you can send forms via email, or create simple surveys that are easy to fill out (i.e. SurveyMonkey).
Getting feedback on meetings helps you become a better professional. As a result, you’ll be able to run meetings more efficiently in the future.
Meetings can end up being a waste of time if not planned properly. By not having a clear purpose or addressing the main issues at stake, meetings can be boring and not as productive as you may think.
By using some of the strategies outlined earlier, you can run business meetings effectively. By providing great insights on the topics being discussed, you will also enable your participants to maximize their time.
Whatever you decide to do, preparing and getting to your main points will make meetings go by smoother. Also, it will benefit everyone participating as well.
Ultimately, they provide a great opportunity to solve problems and come up with the best solutions.
Your Turn: Are you skilled at running effective meetings?
I would like to get some thoughts on the best use of meetings. Are you someone who coordinates meetings at work?
Are you able to get straight to the main points? If you struggle holding meetings, how can you do better? Would asking for feedback help you run more effective meetings?
Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your responses, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.
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Eric is the owner and chief editor of notimekillers.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. Eric is a firm believer in financial and time freedom, as he believes in financial independence and taking ownership of your time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can also connect with Eric via LinkedIn.