Meetings are a necessity in the business world. Without them, lots of great ideas would go undiscovered, teams would find it excruciatingly difficult to collaborate and productivity would likely suffer. The opposite, however, can be said about too many meetings. Professional tasks, no matter what field or department, require actual time to complete. Meetings piled on top of meetings can eliminate precious hours that your team needs to accomplish the tasks they’re assigned.
Therein lies the problem. What is the right number of hours your team should be spending in meetings? There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution here, but there are a few questions you can ask to help you determine the right meeting mix for your business that allows for the ability to maintain high levels of productivity.
Before you click send on that meeting invite, ask yourself the following questions about the meeting you’re about to schedule.
Can the meeting be summed up in a well-crafted, concise email?
Often times, what’s said in a meeting can be just as effectively summed up in an email. Before scheduling your meeting, think about the level of detail of the message you’re planning to deliver and the amount of participation required from your team. If both of those things are on the lower end of the spectrum, an email with bullet points laying out your message clearly and concisely will likely suffice.
Who really needs to attend?
If you find yourself consistently inviting all or a large number of your team members to every meeting you schedule, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate your meeting process. I’ve left many meetings wondering why I was even invited and how I can politely decline next time around. If a meeting doesn’t explicitly require the attention of a specific team member based on their skills or area of expertise, seriously consider whether the meeting would be a waste of their time. Only bring someone into a meeting if the content truly applies to them.
Is this meeting about another meeting?
Meetings to discuss upcoming meetings are unnecessary. If you’re only scheduling the meeting to tell your team how you plan to approach the next meeting, please stop immediately. There’s nothing more annoying than a meeting about a meeting. This is a great way to waste an hour of potential productivity and achieve nothing. Instead, put together an agenda for the upcoming meeting and send it out to your team. Make sure you add enough detail so that each team member understands what’s expected of them during the upcoming meeting and knows what deliverables to prepare.
What is my team working on?
Many professional tasks take serious concentration. If you’re planning on scheduling a meeting, it’s only right to consider your team’s workload before you move forward. Take writers, for example. I’ve led a number of teams of writers and I do a good deal of writing myself. Writing is a specialty that takes serious concentration, and having to break that concentration, even for a 30-minute meeting, can really throw a writer off and make it difficult to return to the flow they’ve developed. Don’t kill your team’s momentum by scheduling frivolous meetings.
Meeting aren’t all bad
By no means am I urging you to eliminate meetings altogether. Just want to make sure I drive that point home. Meetings are great. I enjoy a productive meeting just as much as the next person. It’s the unnecessary meetings that take away precious hours of productivity that I’m against.
So, before you schedule that next meeting, consider whether it will add or take away from your team’s productivity. If the answer is the latter of those two, leave that hour open.
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