The Perfect Meeting

Actually, I started off writing this post from a negative point of view, having recently experienced the frustration of attending too many meetings, while trying to find time to do more of the other things that I’m good at, when I spotted this statistic:

64% of time spent in meetings is unproductive

So I read on and uncovered a few more depressing statistics….
According to the *National Statistics Council (USA) professionals spend, on average, 37% of their time in meetings, almost 2/3 of which is unproductive. This feels like it might be true for some of the organisations I’ve worked for and, aside from the personal impact of boredom and frustration, we can easily calculate the cost to the business (or public purse) of this waste of time and talent:

  • At an average £30k public sector salary, £7,000 could be spent on unproductive meeting time for every employee
  • That’s nearly £40billion wasted every year across the UK public sector
  • Managers spend up to twice as much time in meetings and are paid up to twice as much (on average), so
  • A medium-sized organisation, with 100 managers could be missing out on £3million productivity p.a

So there are millions of reasons why we should make every effort to make our meetings more productive and more fun!

Share your experiences of taking part in great, energetic, fruitful, inspiring meetings by adding your tips to…

My Seven Steps to Meeting Heaven

1. A Clear Purpose
…and everyone knows what this is, so they can decide who can best contribute to the meeting: Is it aligned to my priorities? can I add value? what is my role?
There might be an agenda, but a clearly stated objective is fine by me.

2. A Great Chairperson
…who is not necessarily the most senior, or knowledgeable person present.
…who can involve everyone, close down repetition, negativity and conflict, summarise progress and outcomes.

The aforementioned NSC* findings were that the 2 biggest reasons for unproductive meetings are:
~ Lack of Focus and Preparation
~ Poor Facilitation Skills

3. The Right Time
…booked to achieve the desired outcome: long meetings can be tedious, but not allowing enough time can result in over-runs, missed objectives, or closing down useful debate.
…of day: to allow for travel time, and avoid long days.

4. Interesting and Involving
Interactive techniques, everyone contributes, good use of media, creative environment, even music to set the mood. Do I need to say not people reading from tabled papers, or spending half the meeting going through the notes of the last meeting – move forwards!

5. More Time
…set aside to prepare e.g pre-reading, manage group dynamics, decide what type of meeting, set up the venue and facilities.
…afterwards to communicate decisions and implement agreed actions.

If there isn’t enough time to prepare properly in advance, or follow through afterwards, then there isn’t enough time for the meeting!

6. On Time
…punctual start, without indulging stragglers
…finishes a few minutes early so I can get to my next Great Meeting on time!

7. Don’t Go 🙂
…to the meeting if “none of the above” applies; leave (with grace) if you discover this during the meeting; better still, don’t call the meeting until these things are in place!


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