If you feel like you're attending more meetings than usual, you're not imagining things. These days, workers in America spend more time than ever in meetings. But does that really mean that we're getting more work done? While meetings are a necessary part of any project or initiative, they can quickly become a waste of time and a drain on productivity when not managed properly.
11 million meetings a day and counting
According to a recent study, American workers take part in an average of 11 million meetings each day. And with the average meeting lasting between 31 and 60 minutes, the time that workers spend sitting in conference rooms or waiting on conference calls quickly adds up. As meetings drag on, people lose focus and start to stray off topic. Before you know it, you've wasted an hour on what should have taken 15 minutes. In fact, Salary.com found that 47 percent of survey respondents said the biggest time waster at work was too many meetings.
As meetings go up, productivity goes down
For some people, meetings cost them more in lost productivity because of the nature of their work. Software engineers, for example, can expect to lose a half to a full day of work thanks to just one or two poorly timed meetings since they can't devote the large chunks of uninterrupted time needed for complex work. Worst of all, workers can start to experience meeting fatigue: too many meetings and a lack of clear direction leaves everyone drifting and unfocused, and project momentum soon takes a dive.
Meet smarter, not longer
One way to avoid wasting time on useless meetings is to have smarter meeting follow-up. Here are three essential follow-up actions you should take after the meeting is over.
1. Send out meeting minutes
One person should oversee sending out meeting notes and action items after the meeting. Make sure to send this summary to all meeting invitees, regardless of whether they attended. Keep the meeting notes brief and include any key decisions as well as open questions.
2. Follow a concise, action-driven format
Your meeting notes should touch on each topic that was discussed, even if the only decision was to table it for next time. Here's an example of what a good meeting summary should include:
Remember that recipients will be scanning the meeting minutes at a glance (often on a smartphone or tablet), so be sure any action items stand out.
3. Refocus on your decisions and establish a consensus
Your post-meeting follow-up is the perfect time to refocus everyone on important deadlines or restate the overall vision of the project. You can also use it to record why a decision was made. For example, if the team decided that an extended pilot test before product launch was necessary, then the reasoning and decision should be shown here. This will help avoid rehashing things at the next meeting.
Your meeting wrap-ups don't need to be an email. Use the form of communication that works best for your team. Here at Mersive, we use both Asana and Slack to keep meeting and project direction transparent for the whole team.
Better meeting follow-up moves work forward
Once you get into the habit of creating post-meeting follow-ups, you'll see project momentum improve as team members take ownership for their work. And remember, you don't need to wait for the next scheduled meeting to follow-up on open items. Reach out to team members if you need to follow up on critical issues or eliminate roadblocks. In the end, your own team will appreciate the proactive approach if it means less time spent in meetings and more time spent on getting work done.
About Us: Mersive unleashes the power of ideas through the world’s first truly multi-user wireless media streaming and collaboration solution. Content sharing should be at the heart of every meeting experience and our flagship software tool, Solstice, delivers an easy platform that enables multiple users to share content from computers, tablets, and phones to any meeting room display – securely and easily. Learn more about Mersive and how we enable to people to come together and share easily.