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12 Secrets To a Super Productive Meeting You Should Know

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12 Secrets To a Super Productive Meeting You Should Know

In my forty years of work, I always complained about long, boring and unproductive meetings, so join the club! Yes, old style meetings have negative effects on morale, productivity and motivation.[1]

“He (Warren Buffett) doesn’t let his calendar get filled up with useless meetings.”– Bill Gates

So, why can’t meetings be shorter, more productive and even, dare I say it, fun?

The good news is that many companies are now leading the way in managing their meetings.

Here are 12 secrets to a productive meeting. If you are a manager or team leader, you may want to implement these. If you are a member of a team, you can always make suggestions so that meetings really can become super productive.

1. Time Is Not the Real Issue

Most people complain that they have not enough time and meetings can rob them of this precious commodity. Another way of looking at it is to simply concentrate on the energy levels you have.

Plan in breaks so that productivity levels are kept at the maximum.

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“Manage your energy, not your time.” – Tony Schwartz

2. Make Meetings Shorter

Setting a time limit of 10 or 15 minutes can really help. Some managers actually get a timer so that it goes off when the meeting is finished. It is no accident that TED talks have a maximum limit of 18 minutes.

The reason is that all the research shows that our attention span goes into a progressive decline, if meetings or talks last longer. Studies done at Texas Christian University show that students remember more information after shorter classes.[2]

3. Plan Meetings Only When Needed

Most companies have a set time and day for meetings. This means that productivity is slowed down, just because of a set schedule.

It is much better to meet when things need to get done, decisions made and action points finalized.

4. Meet Standing up or Somewhere Else

A very interesting research shows that sitting down increases the territorial issues.[3]

People feel comfortable and also want to assert their position or authority. This is not so easily done when standing up.

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Participants feel less at ease and want to get things done more quickly. There are other innovative ways of having meetings.

“But wherever you are, be innovative with your space. Try a stand-up meeting, or leave the desks and head to the park. Get out of your everyday environment.”- Richard Branson

5. Plan the Agenda in Advance

A short meeting still needs an agenda and this should be circulated before the meeting if possible. It helps people to prepare and focus on the issues that needs to be discussed.

Here’s How to Construct a Killer Meeting Agenda That is Simple and Effective.

6. Create a Smartphone Free Zone

Ask people about their colleagues using smartphones or tablets during meetings. The majority resents this as it shows a lack of respect and also displays that full participation is patchy or absent.[4]

It is much better to make the meeting area a smart phone free zone and encourage people to leave phones outside in a basket, with post its attached. The White House is already doing this.

7. Limit the Number of Attendees

This is one of the recommendations mentioned in Kristen Gil’s post, ‘Start-Up Speed’.[5] She is VP of Business Operations at Google.

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If you limit the attendees to those directly involved in a project or procedure, it leaves the others more time to get on with their work.

8. Run the Meeting like a Clockwork

Chairing a meeting is a really skilful task. Ideally, you need to do some or all of the following:

  • State the purpose of the meeting, e.g. – “We are meeting today to finalize the auditors’ visit”.
  • Keep off-topic interventions off the agenda. They can be put in the ‘parking lot’ if there is time at the end.
  • Encourage everybody to pitch in.
  • Discourage the show-offs.
  • Stick to the time allocated.

9. Take Away Action Points

The person running the meeting has to keep the whole thing on track, within the short time span.

In practice, this means that at the end, people have a list of action points and that these are tagged to the DRI (Directly Responsible Individual).[6]

10. Allow Transit Time

Make sure that enough time is programmed in before the meeting so that people can actually get there on time.

Allowing ten minutes before and after other engagements helps people to get their act together and plan their absence, even though it is a very short one.

A record is kept of the decisions and these can be emailed as reminders to all participants.

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11. Outline Outcomes and Plan for the Next Meeting

Assuming that the action points will produce the necessary results, it is always a good idea to outline what the next meeting should cover.

This does not need to be set in stone but should fit in with the business and marketing plans. It also helps to highlight long term objectives.

12. Encourage Meeting Skills Training

Delegating some meeting tasks both before and during the meeting is a great way to approach meeting skills training.

Decide who will be responsible for noting down action points, timing, and agendas. This can be done in rotation so that you will still have overall responsibility for running the meeting. To help you write meeting minutes effectively, take a look at these tips: How to Write Great Meeting Minutes So Nothing Gets Lost in Translation

More About Productivity At Work

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Guardian: Bored meetings
[2] Carmine Gallo: The Science Behind TED’s 18-Minute Rule
[3] SAGE Publications: Standing up gets groups more fired up for team work
[4] Forbes: Why Successful People Never Bring Smartphones Into Meetings
[5] Think with Google: Start-Up Speed
[6] The Muse: Links We Love: Mastering the Art of the Meeting

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 13, 2022

How to Use Travel Time Effectively

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How to Use Travel Time Effectively

Most of us associate travel and time with what we’re going to do one we get to our destination. Planning and mapping out what to do once you arrive can certainly make for a more pleasurable vacation, but there are things you can do while you are on your way that can make it even better.

Sure, you can plan for the things you’re going to do on your vacation while you are travelling en route – but what about making use of that time for other things that you don’t usually do when you’re at home? You don’t need to have your gadgets with you to do it, and you can really connect with yourself if you take the time to manage your life while heading towards your vacation destination.

Here are some great tips to help you with your time management while you travel, some of which are more conventional than others. Nonetheless, you can find out what works best for you and apply them accordingly depending on when and how you are travelling.

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1. Take Your Time Getting There

As I write this, I’m on a flight to San Francisco. Flying is the fastest way to get from place to place, and for many people it’s really the only way to travel.

But I’ve often taken the train or ferry on trips so that I have extra time without distraction to get more done. I’m not worrying about navigation or lack of space to do what I want to do. Instead I’m able to focus on getting stuff done during the time I’ve got without feeling rushed. For example, when I took the train from Vancouver to Portland, it was an eight hour trip and I managed to get a ton of writing done and closed a lot of open loops. It also was less expensive than flying, which was a bonus.

Sometimes taking the long way to get somewhere on vacation can be the best thing for you to get somewhere with your life.

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2. Go Gadget-Free

This is going to be a tough one for a lot of you. But why do you need to bring your gadgets with you when you go on vacation? It isn’t be a bad idea to leave all but one of them behind, and only pull out that one when you absolutely need to do so. In some countries, you’d be wise to be discreet with them anyway since flaunting them in front of those that are less fortunate than you isn’t a good practice. While it may not seem like flaunting to you, in different cultures it can definitely come across that way.

If you can’t go gadget-free, then at least go Internet-free. If you use a task management app that requires syncing across your multiple devices to be effective, remember that if you only have the one device with you then it can be the “master device” for the time being and will store your data locally anyway. Just sync up when you get home.

3. Reflect and Prepare

Finally, going on any sort of excursion gives you the perfect opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been. The fact you have removed yourself from where you usually are can give you a perspective that you simply can’t get when you’re at home. You may want to journal your thoughts during this time – and by taking more time to get to your destination you’ll have more time to dig deeper into it.

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After a period of reflection – however long that happens to be – you can then begin to not only prepare for the rest of your travels, you can prepare for the rest of what happens afterward. The reflection period is important, though. You need to really know where you’ve been in order to properly look at where you want to be. Time away from things gives you that chance.

Conclusion

Traveling isn’t always about where you’re going and how quickly you can get there. In fact, it’s rarely about that at all.

More often it’s where you’re at in your head that will dictate how much you benefit from traveling. So don’t just go somewhere fast. Instead, take your time on the way there and take the time to connect with not only where you are but who are while you’re there.

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If you do that, you’ll have a better chance to be who you want to be when you leave.

Featured photo credit: bruce mars via unsplash.com

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