Meetings can be a drag. In my industry, meetings are like a trade-off for work. You’re either getting things done or you’re having a meeting. For me, meetings can be challenging due to the fact that I am required to cover a large geographic territory. This can cause me a lot of anxiety, and inevitably, not getting work done. Finding the right balance between time spent, productivity and collaboration is the key to making meetings work. However, most people aren’t focusing on the right things. Learning how to make meetings work for you is the key to success in business for any sector.
Waste of Time?
The average person spends nearly 12 hours a week preparing for and attending meetings. I would also add in commuting to. Next week, for example – I have four meetings. Which doesn’t sound like a lot spread out over 5 days. 3 of the 4, I have to commute to. 2 of those 3 meetings require an hour long drive or more. So you can see where I’m going with this waste of time thing. In addition, you spend a lot of time getting ready. Maybe your computer isn’t working. Or if you’re trying to have a conference call – maybe the internet isn’t letting you. Whatever it is, you are likely wasting some time. If you can figure out what you’re wasting your time on, and how much, you’ll have a better idea of how to make the time more productive.
What Are Your Goals?
No one wants to spend all week laying out guidelines for meetings. Planning for meetings is almost as much of a waste of time as wasting time in meetings. But you do need to have clear goals. Is this a status meeting or are there big decisions that need to be made? It doesn’t have to be a formal agenda, but some quick guidelines outlining what is going to happen in the meeting will make the world of difference. And it will communicate those goals to your team or whoever is attending the meeting.
Check Your Tech
More meetings happen or over the phone these days. A dramatic shift has been made possible by the wonders of the Internet. Conference calls are nothing new, but video conferencing and other collaborative tools can be daunting. I often use Google Hangouts, but that’s pretty low tech considering the other tools out there. Utilizing better tech can lead to less stressful and more productive meetings. You might need to brush up on what tech is available, but it might make your life a bit easier.
Consider interactive whiteboards, screen sharing, and mind mapping technologies to help keep everyone on the same page in a futuristic way. Screen sharing is a great way to make sure people at multiple locations have access to the same information, while interactive whiteboards and mind mapping can help visualize what’s on your mind during collaborative times.
In many industries, today’s workplace requires collaboration by self-starters. It’s up to you as an employee to make sure your work is done seamlessly and collaboratively. Meetings are supposed to be more about coming together to figure out how to solve problems as a team than they are about reporting to the boss where they are in their part of the project. Collaborative meetings hinge on making the best use of the tools you have available.
Mastering the art of meetings is more than just showing up and listening to the time. It’s about planning ahead and making your collaboration as efficient and effective as possible.