Nothing kills productivity more than an unproductive meeting and given that executives consider 67% of meetings to be unproductive that’s a lot of time wasted. So in order to regain some productivity here are some ideas for how to make meetings productive again:


Generally, meetings are more productive if you can see all the participants. These days this doesn’t mean that you all have to be in the same room, although that is usually preferable. Video calling services, such as Skype, make it possible to hold remote meetings cheaply and easily with the advantage of everyone being seen. This makes it more difficult for participants to work on something else at the same time such as answering emails or making a cup of tea. Speaking of which…

Laptops down

I have been to countless meetings where all the participants have their laptops open in front of them (including me!). We can’t all be dutifully taking meeting minutes, surely? Well, no, of course, we are checking our emails, responding to instant messages or playing minesweeper. What we are not doing is fully engaging in the meeting itself.
Everyone is busy and while you are in an unproductive meeting the emails continue to mount up so there is a desire to keep on top of things. However, the meeting would go considerably quicker if everyone focused on the job in hand. Why not make it a rule that only the person actually taking the minutes has their laptop open and others may only do so when referring to information they may require?
Another possibility though could be…

Not useful? Don’t attend – or leave early!

How many meetings have you been invited to where you have left at the end thinking “Well that was a waste of my time. I don’t know why I was invited”. Worse still is attending a meeting knowing before arriving that you have nothing to contribute and your time would be better spent elsewhere.
Maybe the organisation should look at empowering staff to be able to walk out of a meeting half way through saying “I’ve nothing to contribute so I’ll leave you to it”? This could be difficult if the meeting is being chaired by your boss but surely better than to spend hours in a meeting when you could be productive at your desk or even in another meeting.

Try Something Different

Finally, meetings have been run pretty much the same way for hundreds of years so maybe it’s time for a change?
Stand up meetings have become popular, particularly in software development. Nobody wants to stand around for long and so this encourages brevity. A structured agenda also aids this. A variant on this is the walking meeting, often outside, so you get the benefits of “fresh” air, some exercise as well as the meeting.
You could also consider trying a LoMo meeting a much more structured approach to modern meetings. See the slides below for more on this new approach.
If you’re thinking about how to make meetings productive at work, take a long hard look at how your organisation is currently running its meetings and ask if they are running the most efficiently they could be. And don’t be afraid to make a change.


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