10 Ways to Avoid the Dreaded Meeting “Black Hole”

Let’s talk about bad meetings. You know which ones I’m talking about — they go on and on, but there doesn’t seem to be any clear direction. Or worse, you leave with more questions than you had before. We’ve all been there, right?

Approximately 70% of our workday is wasted with meetings and email.

I don’t know about you, but I want that time back! While you might not be able to actually get a full “time refund,” you can start making easy changes to your daily meetings and reclaim some of your day.

  • Have a clearly defined purpose for the meeting – Give everyone on the invite a heads up about the reason for this gathering. That synopsis will help everyone involved show up ready to hit the ground running, instead of using 10 minutes to catch everyone up.
  • Only invite pertinent people – Keep your events exclusive and only add key stakeholders to your meetings. Putting everyone else as optional alleviates having too many cooks in the kitchen and lets the core group get down to business faster.
  • Include an agenda – How awesome would it be to know what’s expected of you before you walk into a meeting? By including a bulleted agenda, you are giving everyone in the group the talking points, which are also your roadmap to stay on course.
  • Attach docs to be discussed– If you’re going to be using or reviewing documents, attach them to your meeting invite so everyone has all the materials. Make sure to note in your invite whether you want attendees to look through the docs beforehand (which also can cut down on meeting time).
  • Make sure you account for mobile – According to IDC, the worldwide mobile workforce is expected to reach over 3 billion in 2015. Make sure any materials you have are designed for phones and tablet screens, and definitely make sure you’re using a web conferencing partner with mobile support so you don’t run into “technical difficulties.”
  • Go from 1 hour to 45 minutes – Shaving 15 minutes off your meetings is a proven way to encourage everyone to focus on the tasks at hand. Plus, it gives people 15 minutes to go to the bathroom or grab a snack before their next meeting.
  • Assign someone as the timekeeper – Whether it’s you or another attendee, assigning someone to keep time during your meeting is another great way to keep everyone focused.
  • Refuse meetings that make no sense – Ask yourself: “Do I really need another meeting on my calendar?” If the answer is “no,” then push back and insist that the invite include a purpose and agenda, so you know whether or not your presence is required.
  • End the meeting on time – Sounds easy, right? But when everyone starts chatting, your meeting suddenly goes from productive to problematic. Try reminding attendees that the meeting is going to end in 5 or 10 minutes to give the group time to wrap things up effectively.
  • Establish next steps and follow up – To ensure that everyone leaves a meeting with clear next steps, make sure you bake time into your agenda to talk about who is responsible for what. Then, once your meeting is over, remind attendees of their deliverables by sending out notes that include those action items.

There will always be meetings, but with a few simple tweaks to your approach, you could take back some precious time in your schedule. (Your co-workers will probably thank you, too!)

Looking for a video conferencing solution with mobile and tablet support to connect your team? Try GoToMeeting free for 30 days.

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