The ripple effects of too many meetings can be astonishing. Take this quick and horrifying interactive: It shows how a weekly excom meeting at one company generated a total of 300,000 person hours per year to support it:
But there’s hope! While a whole host of cultural changes need to take place to make meetings at your organization more productive and efficient, a few good tools can also go a long way in keeping everyone on the right track (and out of your Outlook calendar when there’s no reason for you to go there).
First, of course, you have to decide whether you need a meeting in the first place:
No gathering required? Great. But if you wind up at the far-right of the decision tree, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to construct the meeting at hand. This checklist can be a huge help (especially
the meeting is of the “super big and really important” variety):
One of the questions you need to ask is who, exactly, should be invited. While the specifics will be unique to each meeting, when it comes to the numbers themselves, here’s a good rule of thumb:
And if your meeting involves a conference call, you might also want to put the brakes on inviting remote coworkers who aren’t vital to the meeting, or read these tips on running a better virtual meeting (hint: use video instead). If not, well:
Similar to questions about using video, it’s important to figure out what, exactly, you want to accomplish in order to know what tools to use. For example, PowerPoint might be your go-to. But sometimes the purpose of a meeting doesn’t warrant a presentation at all; sometimes it should be a conversation:
If you do decide you need a presentation, however, please stay away from these visual cliches:
But let’s move away from what you shouldn’t do for a moment, and talk about what you should do: Agendas. Please have an agenda. Here’s an example of what one might look like:
And a blank one you can save or print out to use yourself:
Of course, these tools aren’t exhaustive, and every meeting has different objectives and challenges (and hopefully sandwiches). But they do provide a framework for making meetings more efficient — and they’ll get you to pause and think before inviting every coworker to the conference room out of sheer habit.
And if you’re invited to a meeting by someone who didn’t follow these steps? Well, there’s always this: