Creative Ways to Make Your Meetings More Productive

Productivity and meetings should go hand-in-hand, but a new survey reveals that is not always the case. Seventy-two percent of meeting-goers reported they felt half or less than half of their business meetings are productive, according to The Truth about Meeting Culture, a survey released by Mersive.

Professionals spend enormous amounts of time in meetings—33% of meeting-goers attend 10 or more meetings per week, according to the report. The survey further reveals that engagement and maintaining meeting focus are the biggest challenges faced in meetings.

What’s a meeting organizer to do? Try these well-known tips and tricks—and little known secrets—for driving employee productivity at company meetings from our resident experts. We’ll start off with three secrets from Paul Rulkens, president of Agrippa Consulting International, an expert in high performance and author of The Power of Preeminence.

First, Rulkens says, break Parkinson’s law. “Parkinson’s law states that a meeting will last the entire amount of time you make available,” he explains. “Set aside half the usual time and the meeting outcomes will be the same or even better.”

Second, he continues, eat your frog. “Start your meeting with the most difficult and unpleasant subject, which moves you towards the most important goals,” he says. “After doing this, you not only have accomplished the most important thing you could possibly do, but everything else which you will do during the meeting will be easy and fun.”

Third, he shares, is to clarify your magnificent obsession. “Help yourself and your co-workers by starting every encounter with one question: ‘What does success of this meeting/project/call look like for you?’” he suggests. “Then spend your time together to achieve success in the fastest way possible.”

Blue Jeans Network, a cloud-based conferencing service to enable people to connect with each other any time, any place and from any device, has also had some strategic, practical tips. The company puts out a State of the Modern Meeting Index, which benchmarks trends in meeting behaviors based on millions of meeting participants, from which is has drawn keen insights.

“Create an agenda in advance of the meeting,” says Blue Jeans Network CEO Krish Ramakrishnan. “It doesn’t have to be lengthy, just a bulleted list of discussion points and action items, and you’re set. And for those that do not readily participate in meetings, make sure they are assigned an item on the agenda. Let them know in advance that they will be speaking so they can come prepared.”

Next, remember that time is of the essence. With that in mind, once you’ve finished all of the agenda items, don’t stick around.

“Typically meetings are set in blocks of time—30 minutes, an hour, two hours, but Blue Jeans Network’s ‘State of the Modern Meeting’ found that the average meeting tends to clock in at 36 minutes, so even though you might have an hour booked, if the meeting is finished before—end it,” Ramakrishnan says. “Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, is known for this and it’s how she makes it through her meeting-heavy days and still gets work done.”

Michael Fritsch, also known as the SavvyCOO, has a few tricks up his sleeve. The productivity expert has helped companies from the Fortune 50 to new venture startups, including Dell, Intel, and the Environmental Defense Fund. From his perspective, you can make meetings shorter and more effective by defining and using specific meeting types with specific objectives.

“Problem solving meetings work through an issue-solve a problem. Limit attendance to those who can solve the issue and important stakeholders,” Fritsch says. “Decision-making meetings aim to make a decision. This may be a presentation of options to the decision maker. The  meeting is held when the facts have been investigated and you are ready to move forward.”

Fritsch also points to planning meetings, in which you set out to plan a course of action. Much like the problem-solving meeting, he says, limit attendance to those who will execute the planned work and important stakeholders. In this case, a change of location might be used to refresh everyone out of the norm, or just to hold a meeting in a bigger space, for those times Davinci Meeting Rooms has you covered. Then there are feedback meetings, which are meetings where you ask participants to react to recent events or information. These meetings are best done in person if the space allows, or by booking a meeting ahead of time at a designated location for everyone to show up, but they are best done in person where attendees can interact with you and each other.

Finally, there are status reporting and information sharing meetings. “This meeting is most likely not needed and is the easiest to eliminate. It’s objectives can usually be more efficiently accomplished by other means. Those may be a written report or dashboard,” Fritsch says.

“It could be on-demand webcast or simply and e-mail newsletter. No need for an actual meeting unless there are likely to be a lot of questions or you need interaction for political or motivational purposes. For example, reporting quarterly results and thanking the department may be better in a meeting than a memo.”

Armed with these tips, tricks and secrets, how will you change your next meeting?

For more information about Davinci Meeting Rooms visit our website or call us at 877.424.9767 today!

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Jennifer LeClaire

Jennifer LeClaire

Jennifer LeClaire is a veteran business journalist, editor and new media entrepreneur with a strong niche in real estate and technology.