ProductivityTime Management

How do we get rid of endless meetings?

It is difficult to escape them even though 52% of them are considered unproductive. What are they? Meetings, of course! The transition to the New Year is a great opportunity to make good resolutions, so check out our tips for shortening your business meetings and boosting their effectiveness.

“Only one meeting in four leads to a decision”

Several sign roads show "one way" pointing to different directions

As management tools, meetings must make it possible to bring together the employees of a company to facilitate the production of ideas and, as a result, decision-making. However, they now seem to be suffering from bad press. According to a study conducted by OpinionWay, one in two meetings is considered non-productive and only one out of four leads to a decision.

Now why is this? The lack of a clearly defined agenda or objective and a lack of coherence are the culprits. In fact, 26% of employees do not understand the added value of their presence at meetings. The result: 44% of respondents say they do something else – on their computer or smartphone – during these professional meeting times.

A survey conducted by Cadreo with 630 executives also revealed that meetings were particularly time-consuming. 43% of respondents reported participating in more than 4 weekly meetings while 10% reported spending more than 10 hours per week on them.

However, frequency isn’t the only problem, it’s also duration. 46% of managers consider that meetings occur too often or are systematically too long. They would prefer that they do not last more than one hour and that the number of participants be limited to a maximum of 6 people. Finally, most of them consider that the ideal time slot is between 10am and 12pm at the beginning of the week.

4 tricks to shorten extended meetings

2 people sit in a meeting, one person shakes the hand of a third one over the desk

A well-prepared meeting is a valuable time saver!     

 To be beneficial to all employees, a meeting must be carefully organized. What is its purpose? What topics will be covered? How many people will participate? How will speaking be regulated? Asking the right questions beforehand will help to organize and optimize meeting time.

Another important aspect is logistics. Tables and seats must be sufficient in number and installed before the arrival of participants. It is also necessary to ensure the proper functioning of equipment (video projector, pens…). These simple checks ensure that no time is wasted once the meeting has started.

The essential agenda

“A clearly defined agenda” is the most important criterion for a successful meeting. In any case, this was stated by 80% of the executives interviewed by Cadreo. To structure it and avoid it taking too long, it may also be interesting to define speaking times according to the different subjects to be discussed. Obviously, it is essential that all participants be informed of the points that will be discussed so that they can prepare themselves and synthesize their thoughts.

The importance of the report          

It is essential that concrete objectives and missions are defined and assigned at the end of a meeting. With a clear and precise report of the meeting, participants will be able to follow up on assigned tasks more quickly and work more efficiently.

Original methods

Standing meetings, more commonly known as stand-up meetings, can be an interesting way to save time. Indeed, in this position, participants tend to express themselves more clearly and get to the point more quickly.

Another option is applying the theory of the two pizzas. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos came up with the idea. According to him, for a meeting to be effective and lead to quick decisions, you shouldn’t need more than two pizzas to feed all the participants….

Innovative solutions to fight ineffective meetings

Two men high five each other during a meeting

Start-ups have no lack of imagination when it comes to finding solutions to meetings that affect the business world.

For example, Roti Express has developed a tool to survey all participants in a meeting and obtain instant feedback. The data collected is analyzed and presented in graphical form so that the manager can quickly identify areas for improvement.

The Lyon-based start-up Entr’UP has designed a smart assistant named Aster. His role? Help managers better understand their meetings by doing a large part of the work for them. In particular, Aster can follow-up with participants by considering their role and by generating and sharing reports automatically once the meeting is over.     

Finally, even though Julie does not yet have the ability to shorten meetings herself, don’t forget that she is a master at planning them 😉

Do you use specific methodologies to organize and conduct your professional meetings? Tell us about your experiences!