Mitigating the  Meeting  Effect

Sunday morning. The work week looms ahead, its myriad tasks and chores laid out in neat working order – an organized to-do list covering all the ins and outs of what needs to be achieved over the coming 5 days. Yet somehow, week after week, this list remains undefeated, growing rather than shrinking in length, despite the adequate amount of time dedicated to tackling it. Ah, the meeting effect.

This is a frustration experienced by countless professionals, many of whom are forced to spend up to 60 hours per month attending meetings, where the work they might otherwise be doing is discussed at great length, as the time allocated to its completion ticks away. 

Meetings account for an inordinate portion of any professional’s day, and whilst they are undoubtedly necessary from time to time, studies show that over 50% of those held are thought to be largely ineffective. The vast majority run longer than intended, involve more team members than they should and fail to achieve any kind of definitive outcome, leaving participants with few insights and even fewer available hours.  

Yet despite this, the prevalence of meetings is in fact increasing, made ever easier by technology, which has now rendered inter-personal proximity entirely unnecessary. But while we talk the talk – in boardrooms and via Skype conference calls – who is actually walking the walk? 

Meetings undoubtedly serve a vital purpose in any organization – they promote collaboration, align teams, bring issues to the fore and help to increase accountability and visibility in any corporate environment. But how much is too much of a good thing?  

Here are a few handy tips to bear in mind when scheduling your next corporate get-together: 

Prepare 

If you want to ensure your meetings are kept brief and to-the-point, be sure to do a little legwork ahead of time. Think about the points that need to be discussed, and be sure to circulate these in advance so that all attendees can arrived prepped and ready. That way, you’ll ensure that everybody in the room has a clear idea of their purpose, and that they’ve have had time to acquire any and all necessary information. 

Ditch the Chairs 

Want to avoid having your meetings drag on for hours? You might want to make things a little less comfortable for attendees. After all, sitting in a snug boardroom chair sipping on endless cups of complimentary coffee is a pretty appealing form of procrastination. By keeping those present on their toes (literally), you’ll not only ensure they’re more engaged in proceedings, but also encourage a greater sense of urgency in your employees, who will likely be all too keen to return to the relative comfort of their desks.  

Keep It Low-Tech 

If you want your meetings to matter, it’s important to ensure that everyone in the room is actually present. By banning the use of mobile phones, laptops and tablets within any given meeting scenario, you’ll dial down the distraction factor, thereby increasing the likelihood of productive discussion and facilitating a more fluid exchange of ideas. 

Take Action 

If ever you leave a meeting without having made clear decisions regarding follow-up actions, it’s safe to say you’ve probably wasted yours and everybody else’s time. An effective meeting is one that clearly outlines the role each person in the room will play in achieving the ends being discussed, so before you wrap things up, ensure that you’ve outlined your expectations clearly so as to avoid having to reconvene regularly.

Mitigating the  Meeting  Effect

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