How to fix "meeting hell"

How to fix "meeting hell"

Meetings can be a major bummer.

Maybe you’ve noticed. Whether it’s a cell phone ringing, co-workers whispering, or the guy across the table snoozing, meetings can be a big productivity drag.

In fact, after I first went out on my own, I noticed I was immediately getting twice as much accomplished in half the time. A big factor was my lack of meetings — especially the ones that seem pointless and disorganized.

What makes so many meetings so distasteful? According to a new study, 27 percent of workers are most irked by disorganized, rambling meetings. 17 percent are most annoyed by peers who interrupt and try to dominate meetings. Other top peeves are furtive Blackberry usage, lack of bathroom breaks and snacks (or the lack of them).

“If you (call) the meeting, organize it, control everyone during the meeting, and make sure the people there aren’t wasting their time,” said Jeff Resnick, president of Opinion Research USA, which conducted the survey. “If you’re asking somebody to participate in a meeting, it has to be, from their perception, worth it to invest the time.

I have a few other suggestions to offer:

  • Make sure there’s a real reason for the meeting. A lot of routine stuff can be better handled in a memo.
  • Post an agenda along with the invitation, so people know what will be covered.
  • Let participants know what’s expected of them (ideas, etc.) in advance.
  • Invite only participants who really need to be there. Remember that a one-hour meeting attended by 12 people drains 12 hours of productivity from your team — not just one hour.
  • If the purpose of the meeting is to share information, procedure changes, etc., prepare summaries in advance.
  • Keep it short! (I’ve heard of meetings conducted where no one is allowed to sit down. THAT would speed things along!) Short meetings also reduce the need for meals, snacks, bathroom breaks, etc. They also let your team get back to work sooner.

What’s your take on meetings? Bane or boon?

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