What makes a meeting effective? Start with these 5 strategies

Feb 5, 2018 | Insights

Executives spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings according to HBR’s “Stop the Meeting Madness” in the July/August 2017 edition. Does it seem like your calendar is always full? You’re going from one meeting to the next, and not even sure what is being accomplished? Does any of this sound familiar?

While collaboration is critical to moving projects forward, completing initiatives, and driving transformation in organizations, there is only so much time in the work week. The HBR article goes on to reference a survey of 182 senior managers in a range of industries – 64% of respondents said meetings keep them from completing their own work, and 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.

Meetings may take up a lot of time, but they do not need to be a necessary evil. They are a key component of healthy work environments and serve as a way for people to connect, share ideas and information, and a forum to make decisions. Using meeting time effectively can increase employee job satisfaction, productivity, and go so far as to improve work/life balance. We find that effective meetings happen most when these strategies are used:

  1. There is a clear purpose. When the meeting is set up, and time and place are agreed upon, define the structure and objective of the meeting. Inform attendees on how the time will be used – working session, information-gathering, status update, decision-making, announcement, and so on.
  2. The leader is empowered. The meeting leader prepares before the meeting, sets the tone, manages the agenda and time, and is responsible for intervening when topics go off agenda. They will suggest when a separate meeting should be set to address the topic at another time.
  3. Feedback is collected. Attendee feedback serves to identify what is working well, whether the time has been well spent, and provide opportunities for improvement.
  4. Adjustments are made. Attendee feedback, initiative progression, and group of participants may inform any changes that need to be made.
  5. All of the above factors are revisited. With a defined frequency, revisit the purpose, further drive empowerment, gather input from attendees, and continue to adjust.

What other strategies do you use to make meetings more effective?