We’ve all sat through at least one meeting that left us thinking, “Well that was a waste of time.” It happens to the best of us: One thing leads to another, and then another, and eventually, someone’s unrelated tangent goes on for the whole hour.
Unfortunately, this isn’t only a common problem – it’s also a serious one. Unproductive meetings don’t just waste your and your company’s time. They also waste a staggering amount of money. According to Business Insider, American companies lose $37 billion every year on unproductive meetings.
Just how do unproductive meetings cause such losses?
“Well, consider that a manager gets paid $2,000 for 40 hours of work every week,” explains Shiv Sharma, Taskworld’s content manager. “If he sits in a two hour meeting that doesn’t lead to any actionable conclusions, that’s equivalent to burning $100.”
In the past, companies could easily blame this problem on a number of things – e.g., unforeseen circumstances, a lack of resources, or even poor employee performance.
But, if you want to move beyond excuses, now may be a good time to check out the various ways in which business technologies have come to rescue us all from unproductive meetings. Now, we have access to productivity platforms – like the aforementioned Taskworld – that allow us to create projects for our meetings, assign action items in real time, and set completion dates for each task. With a simple app like that, meeting can become a lot more productive.
Imagine starting your computer and finding a screen that tells you exactly what you need to do for the day, gives you all the files that you want, and allows you to communicate with any member of your team. Now imagine it also suggests specialized workflows to help organize your work. That’s the kind of productivity platform your company could benefit from if you’re still struggling with unproductive meetings.
Get Your Meetings Right: The Four Golden Rules of Meaningful Meetings
That being said, productivity platforms aren’t magic cure-alls. They won’t automatically save you from bad meetings. In fact, before a productivity platform can help you, Sharma says, you have to learn – and adhere to – the four “golden rules” of meaningful meetings:
- Have a specific purpose.
- Involve the right people.
- Follow the schedule.
- End with planned actions.
The word “specific” in that first step is extremely important. Generic agendas will only invite generic discussions.
“Instead of saying you’ll be discussing pricing in the meeting, say you’ll be coming up with pricing limits for enterprise costumers,” Sharma says.
And of course, you should invite only the people who can adequately contribute to the topic of conversation. According to Sharma, “If you invite people who don’t need to be there, your meeting will be longer, less efficient, and thus, more expensive.”
Ultimately, the key to having productive meetings lies in standardizing the way companies hold their meetings.
“We at Taskworld have created a methodology based on the [above] rules,” Sharma explains. “Even though the agendas of various meetings may differ, this methodology will still hold true.”
Beyond standardizing as much as possible, it’s also important to treat meetings as limited resources.
“With the advent of the latest technologies in project management and communication, it has become possible to avoid meetings for a lot of projects,” Sharma says. “Having fewer meetings keeps people motivated and focused.”
The truth is, nobody really likes having meetings. But they’re a necessary part of any business operation and they aren’t going anywhere, so we might as well make the most of them. And there are few things more satisfying than leaving a meeting with clarity, purpose, and a general sense of accomplishment.
This is something we all like to feel in the workplace – and, if you follow the tips outlined above, you will.
You’ll save your company some money, too.