For many managers meetings take up a large chunk of the day. Answer these 3 questions to determine if you have meeting fatigue.

  1. On average, how many hours of your workday are taken up by meetings?
  2. How many hours of your working week are spent in meetings?
  3. Do you have days where you’re moving from meeting to meeting, never actually having time to prepare or to do the work assigned to you in those meetings?

how was last week?

When you think back over the last week, how many of your meetings were worth the time invested? Were there any that you didn’t need to be at? Were there any that you actually had no idea as to the purpose of that meeting? Why do we need all those meetings?

why we think we need meetings

When we look at why we meet, whether that be in person or online, a variety of reasons pop up.

If you’re in an organisation that relies heavily on email for communicating information, meetings are used as a way to ensure you haven’t missed an organisers email about a particular topic.

Meetings also grew in response to our adaption to a COVID induced change in working habits. With more people working from home, we began to find new ways or in the case of meetings, more of the old ways, to connect with each other. Sometimes meetings are set up, because that’s the corporate culture. Before booking your next meeting, here are three questions to ask yourself.

Why meet?

What’s the purpose of this meeting? Can the purpose be clearly articulated? Are you certain of the outcome? Who needs to be in the meeting for you to achieve that outcome?

who are your key meeting participants?

Are there any participants who need to be kept informed rather than actively participating in the meeting dialogue? Could you keep them informed without them needing to be present at your meeting?

Warning!

There, there may be people you think need to be kept informed, but they believe they need to be consulted or an active participant in the meeting.

This is where effective communication comes to the fore.

Reach out to them before setting up your meeting, share your question and the outcome you’re after and then explore together their perspective on their intended involvement. Keep going until there’s an understanding reached. Now you know who needs to be at the meeting, it’s time to circle back.

Do you really need a meeting?

Is a meeting the best medium to reach the outcome you’re after? If it is, great. Now spend some time thinking about who your crucial meeting attendees are. These people are your keystones. Nothing is more time wasting than a meeting where the key decision maker, stakeholder or action taker isn’t there.

Your next step is to set up the meeting. So many meeting invites have just the date, time, name of the meeting and where you’re meeting. Set your meeting up for success by including its purpose, the desired outcome and any context or information that will help reach that outcome. It will help your participants to prepare.

Getting intentional

Oprah Winfrey starts her meetings with these three sentences. After a moment of silence so everyone is present. She asks,

  • what is our intention for this meeting?
  • what’s important?
  • what matters?

Meeting etiquette

Every meeting needs an agenda and the clear expectation to turn up prepared, ready to contribute and on time. In  return, it’s the responsibility of the meeting organiser to ensure the meeting sticks to the agenda, starts on time and finishes on time. So what can you do if you’re looking at a calendar and it’s full of meetings.

take back control of your calendar

The first step is to take back control of your calendar.

Block out time for thinking, recovering and doing.

This reduces the appearance of available meeting time.

Check in with the meeting organiser so that you’re clear on the meetings purpose, the ideal outcome and why you need to be there.

honour your time

Be respectful by tuning up to a meeting on time, prepared and willing to participate. But equally honour yourself and your calendar by leaving the meeting at the allotted time. Or if you’re able to signalling how long past the scheduled end time that you’re willing to stay. And most importantly stick to that communicated leave time.

If you’re the host, after the meeting, communicate what was agreed, any actions and outcomes to the meeting attendees and those who need to be kept informed.

how to beat the daydreamers and multi-taskers

Research shows 9 out of 10 Americans daydream during the meeting, and 73% of attendees work on other things personal and professional.

Keep your meetings concise and mix it up a bit by introducing occasional standing or walking meetings. That makes it a little harder to daydream or work on other stuff.

the power of intentional meetings

Meetings can become the biggest time draining part of your working day. If run with intention, they can be your secret sauce for driving productivity, cementing a supportive culture and encouraging communication. Become your organization’s meeting saviour by ensuring your meetings are intentional and create positivity rather than becoming a resented time drain.