Stop having pointless meetings

By Gary McAdam

People think of meetings as mostly pointless. An Atlassian study found meetings to be one of the biggest culprits of wasted time at work, where employees consider half of all meetings a waste of time.

The first part of this is easy: stop scheduling unnecessary meetings (for example, how many times would a Slack message, email or chat suffice instead of a full-blown meeting?) Think about the time and cost waste whenever you bring so many people together.

But the second part requires a bit more thought: stop making meetings pointless.

If you’re going to call a meeting, don’t make them pointless! Here are some tips for making your meeting more successful:

  • Have an agenda and prioritise the items you want to go through in order of importance — an exercise here is to imagine you had only 1 thing to talk about and start with that, at least if the fire alarm goes off you got the most important thing out the way
  • Consider when you have a meeting; the time before and after your meeting is a dead-zone, and people who rely on flow are going to feel it.
  • Time-box discussion items — don’t spend the entire meeting talking about the first thing you brought up (although if you prioritised the list at least this would be marginally better) — keep the meeting focused and try to come up with a resolution in a reasonable time, if not, skip the item and come back at the end if there’s time
  • Start on time, finish when you’re done — rather than finishing when you were scheduled to, just finish when the outcome of the meeting has been established, at the very least respect people’s time and finish promptly; but remember at the very least, don’t run past the scheduled time
  • Meeting in person? Ditch the laptops — and phones, too; they’re a distraction. Unless you genuinely need a computer for the purposes of the meeting, leave it at your desk. You’ve been invited to the meeting for more than just meat in the room (hopefully!) so bring your attention, not your iPhone

How do your meetings move along right now? Is there someone whose responsibility it is to facilitate the meeting? Or does it just tick along without much guidance or direction?

To have an effective meeting, consider designating someone the role of facilitator. Their role is to keep the meeting on track, ensure that the group doesn’t stray too far from the agenda and make sure things run smoothly.

A meeting, facilitated, can make all the difference.

If you haven’t already, try to identify what facilitation technique is going to best suit your meeting. If you’re trying to get to the bottom of a recent issue, try a root cause analysis meeting. New team? Try an icebreaker. Looking back over the last few weeks? Sounds like a retrospective. Each type of meeting can often be best suited to a particular technique.

If you’re stuck for a technique in your day to day meetings, try out a Lean Coffee meeting to keep the conversation on track.

Lastly, if you think your meetings could warrant some intervention and you’re looking for inspiration on how to keep meetings focused we’d love it if you tried out Rapport. It’s a free tool and has absolutely zero sign up.

Keep your meeting focused and on track with Rapport.

With Rapport, you build the agenda of your meeting, vote on the most pressing topics and discuss them in order of importance. It keeps your meeting on track, focused and engaging with things like timeboxes, and what’s great is that it works with digital or in-person meetings, co-located or remote. Check out the video below or try Rapport now for free.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We would appreciate it if you would leave a ❤ and share this with anyone you think would benefit. Also, please leave your own tips in the comments below. Thanks!