What is a time-efficient meeting?
Even before the pandemic began, one might argue that there were already too many work meetings throughout the day. Now, with so many businesses turning to full or part-time work-from-home, meetings have all but taken over the entire workday for many.
According to Harvard Business Review:
New research shows that 70% of meetings keep employees from doing productive work...and the number of meetings attended by a worker on average rose by 13.5%.
This article will go over ways to decrease the number of meetings and make meetings more efficient overall. First, let's explore why there might be more meetings each day.
Reasons for More Meetings
Too many work meetings throughout the day can be mentally and financially draining. Zoom (or virtual meeting) fatigue has become a reality. Here are a few reasons there are more daily meetings now.
Less Chats Lead to More Calls
In the days when everyone was in the office, access to your coworkers was as simple as stopping by their desk. Those metaphorical "water cooler" chats allowed small talk but also allowed workers to engage in discussions about projects or work. For those who work primarily from home, those chats are extinct. Proximity with another team member can only happen with a call, text, or email now.
There are No Spacing Limits
If you worked at an office with small meeting areas or "the big room" wasn't available, you would have to plan smaller meetings, have meetings separately with different teams, or be more selective in your choices for the meeting. Now, meetings don't limit how many people you can invite, so it's easier just to invite anyone who might have a stake in the project.
People are Distracted
Having a meeting through your computer screen can quite naturally lead to multitasking when you should be paying attention. It's very easy to miss information or a direct question that eventually leads you to wonder what the meeting was about and be unclear about your specific tasks. Sadly, this could lead to another meeting or at least a "quick call" to someone from the team.
How to Have Fewer Meetings
This is a tough nut to crack. And perhaps the answer doesn't lie in having fewer meetings but more efficient ones. Regardless, here are a few ways to have fewer meetings. (We'll get into better meeting efficiency next.)
This doesn't Require a Meeting
Before scheduling another meeting, ask yourself, "Could this be an email instead?" Sure, it's become a common joke in office culture. Some might even have a coffee mug with the phrase on it. But it's real. Some meetings just aren't necessary. Consider whether yours is or not. If not, find an other way to share.
Enforce Camera Usage
Part of Zoom fatigue has to do with too much face time with what are essentially strangers. However, if it's an important meeting with crucial information, then you may want to nudge participants to show their faces. Being able to see others may limi t multitasking and improve overall communication with non-verbal gestures and cues.
Ask yourself who is mandatory for the meeting. If someone is optional, save them some time by not sending them an invite. If you're a team leader, encourage limiting meetings to fewer people and find new ways to communicate to those who might benefit from having the information but don't necessarily need to know.
How to Make Meetings More Efficient
Of course, if you've exhausted those options or they just don't quite work for you and your teammates, the answer may be to find ways to make your meetings more efficient.
Adapt your Tools to your Meeting Goals
For some presentations, tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams work just fine. But, for meetings where you’d like input from the team, collaboration, or someone else talking and sharing, then you may want to consider better tools that facilitate those things. The Workshop Platform by Klaxoon is that kind of tool. It provides a whiteboard, integrated video conferencing, surveys, quizzes, automatic reports, interactive and sequenced presentations with consolidated feedback, etc.. The best part is you can start for free.
Make Meetings Participative
When you’re not talking directly to people or the information doesn’t necessarily pertain to their job, employees can tune out, check emails, do other work, or basically anything else but pay attention. Making meetings more interactive can limit those distractions. It’s hard to start working on other projects if you could be called on to participate at any time.
Perhaps using icebreakers outside a networking event seems a bit silly. But, the truth is that many of us don’t really know our fellow coworkers anymore. Unless we knew them before the pandemic, we certainly don’t know them outside of the meetings we’ve had with them. And most meetings aren’t used to getting to know each other better. Why not? Knowing your teammates is a vital part of working together. Icebreakers can help loosen up a group, get focused on the task at hand, and overall build trust amongst the group.
Polls & Surveys
One of the easiest ways to improve interactivity is to provide polls and surveys throughout the meeting. You can plan these ahead of time or make them up as you go along. Some can be silly but make others relate directly to the work. Wouldn’t it be useful to know if the last 45 minutes of a meeting made sense or if everyone understood the key messages? These can provide the group's leader with essential information and help them run future meetings better.
Encourage Emojis and the Chat Box
Most virtual meeting software comes with a chat box or emoji capability. Have people raise their hands with questions, clap for a job well done, and leave comments throughout the meeting. It might be a bit awkward at first, but once everyone gets the hang of it, you may find that team members enjoy the extra bells and whistles you allow during your pow-wows.
Make Information Clear and Assign Direct Tasks
It’s essential to know your stuff ahead of time if you’re going to convey that information to others. Make sure you’re able to relay information clearly and efficiently so that time isn’t wasted on re-explaining things or questions that should’ve been answered with the material.
It’s also important to ensure that team members understand what the takeaways and assigned tasks are after the meeting is complete. This might not save you a bunch of time during the meeting, but it could prevent future meetings or calls. Take a few moments each session to go around the proverbial table and ask everyone if they know their next steps.
Have a Helper
Whether you need a moment to rest your voicebox or someone to perform the interactive tasks mentioned above, a meeting helper can help gatherings be more efficient and go more smoothly. They can drop polls and surveys for you, ask questions (direct or to everyone) and provide you with an assessment of how to improve meetings in the future.
Help Improve Relationships
As mentioned above, better relationships mean better trust. That trust could lead to more productivity, participation, and communication. To improve your team's relationships, encourage them to get to know each other better, allow small talk during the top part of the meeting, and introduce new team members beyond just the regular “what do you do here?” type of introduction.
The Benefits of a Time-Efficient Meeting
There’s something to be said about saving everyone time throughout their workday. You may never win an award, but you should hold a special place in the hearts of many coworkers. Here are a few benefits of making meetings more time-efficient.
Projects Start and Finish on Time
When project information is shared fully and clearly, and individual tasks are clear, it helps projects start and finish on time. Meeting your deadlines often means proper resourcing, happier clients, and more profits for your company.
Everyone Has More Time to Complete Their Assignments
“Alright, I’m giving you all ten minutes back.” Who doesn’t love to hear those beautiful words? Extra time means people can grab a drink, use the bathroom, or finish that assignment they were working on. Instead of a domino effect from meetings running late, they can feel less rushed and relaxed as they go about their day.
You Become a Hero to Many
We all have that coworker or team leader with whom we dread having meetings. They might be unorganized or like to ramble, or we just feel like they waste our time. Having consistently efficient meetings will ensure you are not that. Instead, you’ll be the one that everyone enjoys working with. You’ll become a hybrid work environment hero.
Meetings, especially in a virtual workplace, are increasingly essential. But, they don’t have to be painful. Implementing better tools and solutions, and taking some time to make everyone’s day a little better will go a long way toward easing some of the pressure we’ve all faced in this new normal of a remote work environment.
If you still have questions or want to try some new things to make your own workday better, check out the tools and resources we offer at Klaxoon.