The overwhelming majority of business meeting attendees, rate their participation in meeting sessions as a waste of time. The statistics on the cost of lost productivity due to meeting attendance are staggering; the added hidden costs of meetings drive that number significantly higher. Why do so many professional managers fall into the trap of throwing a meeting together on short notice, generally with little preparation, and expect the results of the gathering to be productive.
Meetings are essential to the successful operation of most companies. Every manager that schedules a meeting has a responsibility to the company and the meeting attendees to make the time spent in the meeting a productive session. Before your next regular or impromptu gathering is scheduled to discuss important aspects relating to the operation of your business, take the time to review the following suggestions on how to improve meeting preparation and achieve the results you intend from the time invested.
Can the subject matter you intend to discuss be disseminated through some other means? Would a series of emails suffice in reaching any consensus you hope to gain in scheduling the meeting? Not every discussion requires a face to face setting to achieve the desired results. Unnecessary meetings accomplish little more than becoming an aggravation to those forced to attend.
Just as email can save time in obtaining the go ahead on a particular course of action, email can also facilitate meeting preparation. When a meeting is scheduled every attendee should know in advance the purpose of the meeting, what is expected to be accomplished and what preparations they need to make to successfully participate in the planned agenda.
Software programs can provide an electronic interface and assist in meeting planning, recording minutes, distributing important data covered, and following up on the progress of assignments. If you are still processing all of this information in paper format you are far less efficient than managers who use the current technology and the digital tools that are available.
Inviting someone to a meeting for the sole purpose of allowing them to observe the proceedings is a glaring waste of time. Digitally record the meeting and allow non-critical attendees the opportunity to view what transpired during non-productive time. Important participants may be off-site or in a position where leaving to attend the meeting presents a significant inconvenience or loss of productivity; allowing those individual to participate digitally can help to minimize travel expense and downtime. Non-essential meeting participants can often slow down the agenda of a meeting; these employees can be kept abreast of key decisions via electronic media reporting of meeting minutes.
Digitize you meeting agenda, record minutes on decisive actions, plot courses of action with software that can document assignments given, track progress and display working timelines. For the meeting to be effective the manager needs to leave the gathering with a list of the decisions made, assignment given, results expected, and a commitment to meet goals in a given time period. The participants need to leave the meeting with a means to view the same information for their individual tasks and the ability to update the status of those tasks for all participants to follow. Relying on paper for this time sensitive process slows the machine of industry to a crawl. Provide your key employees with the tools to respond digitally to meeting outcomes and see how efficiency increases as a result.
Employees inherently want to do a good job for their employer and strive to be successful in their job assignments. Probably the most important job responsibility of a manager is removing the obstacles that prevent his or her staff members from achieving the success they desire and the company deserves. Improving meetings so they are considered an asset towards achieving success by each participant is critical to every manager’s role as a problem solver.