Meetings, for many businesses, are a necessary part of the workday. They provide a platform for team members to share information, align on strategy and make important decisions. However, they can also be a significant drain on time, energy, and creativity, with data revealing that many employees spend nearly 24 hours per week in meetings.
Long meetings with unclear agendas, multiple attendees and no resolutions can lead to frustration and unproductive outcomes, with a recent study by MeetingScience finding that the 55 million daily meetings in the U.S. leave 89% of attendees feeling unhappy.
In today’s fast-paced business environment, the need for effective meetings has never been greater. The ability to communicate effectively and make decisions quickly can mean the difference between success and failure. This is especially true for remote and hybrid businesses, as meetings require employees to focus on a specific task at a specific time. This can be challenging, as everyone’s productivity peaks at different times — and, with a more global workforce, time zones can also be an issue.
Employees should be able to work heads-down at a time ideal for them and answer colleagues’ questions on their schedule, rather than being interrupted by meetings.
Here are seven tips for making meetings more effective, based on TheSoul Publishing’s experience:
- Exhaust asynchronous options before scheduling a meeting. Asynchronous communication, such as email or instant messaging, can be an effective alternative to meetings. It allows for discussion and decision-making to occur at a pace that suits each individual rather than the pressure of real-time meetings. At TheSoul Publishing, we follow the rule of exhausting all asynchronous options before scheduling a meeting. This not only saves time but also allows for more thoughtful and considered discussions.
- Provide 24 hours’ notice. When scheduling a meeting, it’s crucial to provide sufficient time to allow attendees to prepare. Requiring 24 hours’ notice for all meetings is ideal so that everyone comes ready to contribute.
- Have a specific agenda. A meeting without a clear agenda is like a ship without a compass. At TheSoul, we ensure that all meetings have a clear, specific plan to keep the conversation focused and on track. This helps to avoid unnecessary distractions and ensures that the meeting stays within its allotted time. Preparation is often the key to meetings that yield results.
- Limit meetings to 30 minutes. Long meetings can quickly become unproductive an drain energy. To combat this, setting a limit for all meetings to 30 minutes can stop them from running on. This keeps the discussion focused and prevents it from wasting time for all participants.
- Record the meeting. Recording the meeting allows attendees to revisit important points and discussions at a later time. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that decisions are acted upon.
- Limit meetings to necessary attendees. Large meetings can quickly become overwhelming, and it can be challenging to stay focused when there are too many voices. To combat this, TheSoul prefers to keep meetings small, involving only attendees who are necessary for progress. This allows for a more focused conversation, helps to ensure that everyone has a chance to speak, and eliminates unnecessary participation.
- Share detailed notes with the wider team. It’s vital to ensure that all relevant information is shared with the team after the meeting. It takes additional time in the short term but, by following the practice of sharing detailed notes with the wider team, companies can ensure that everyone is informed and up-to-date on the latest developments. This also eliminates the need for additional meetings to discuss the same information.
In today’s fast-paced business environment, time is a precious commodity for both employees and leaders. While banning meetings may not be possible for all businesses and industries, there are still lessons to be learned about the power of optimizing them. By following these tips drawn from TheSoul Publishing’s experience, businesses can ensure that their meetings are a valuable use of time and that everyone comes away feeling productive and energized.
Aleksandra Sulimko is the chief human resources officer at TheSoul Publishing, where she leads the Human Resources department, bringing her expertise to strengthen day-to-day operations of a global team spread across 70 countries. She also ensures her team supports each business division to drive employee well-being, empowerment and development.
Based at the company’s headquarters in Cyprus, Aleksandra is a Harvard Business School alumnus. She joined TheSoul from Exness, an international and award-winning financial brokerage company, where she introduced employee learning programs and supported personal career development across all company levels. Before this, Sulimko worked for Team Training International and Japan Tobacco International in positions focused on coaching, employee career path training and organizational consulting.