Many of us see meetings as the bane of our lives as they can dominate our time at work. How many times have you heard people complaining that they’re so busy with meetings that they’re struggling to get their work done?

While meetings are necessary to reach agreement on important points, to hold teams to account and to discuss and resolve specific issues, they don’t directly meet the goals of an organisation. They are a means to an end.

Research carried out in the US has found that 37% of employees’ time is spent in meetings, and busy professionals can attend more than 60 meetings per month.

To get an idea of the time meetings actually take up, try multiplying the length of each meeting by the number of attendees. An hour-long meeting with eight people is equivalent to a full day’s work for one person. And of course meetings often involve several senior individuals within an organisation. This underlines the importance of making sure sessions are as short as possible and focused on achieving the desired results.

Here are a few tricks to help make your meetings more effective, more productive and less time-consuming:

1. Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself whether it’s really necessary. Sometimes we arrange meetings out of habit, when a conversation by email or over the phone may actually be a just as effective and take up much less time.

2. If the meeting is important, make sure all the attendees are prepared. They should all have seen the relevant KPIs and metrics and be ready to discuss their thoughts and suggestions.

3. Meetings often go on too long because the discussion goes off track. A handy way to prevent this is to use a sectioned off area of a whiteboard or flipchart to capture any ideas that you don’t want to lose but which are not directly relevant to the discussion at hand.

4. Meetings should motivate and inspire the people who will be implementing the plans and actions agreed during the session. Try to keep the atmosphere positive. Show enthusiasm, celebrate good ideas and contributions and keep things upbeat. It’s OK for meetings to be fun!

5. Finally, when closing, summarise the issues where agreement has been reached, the decisions made, the actions that need to be completed and who will be responsible for them. This will ensure everyone leaves feeling confident that the meeting was a success.

At Renoir we use a scoring tool to measure and track the effectiveness of meetings. This helps us provide clients with specific guidance to make their meetings more productive, freeing up their senior staff to spend more of their time and energy on the core business of the organisation.

If you think this could benefit your organisation, please get in touch to find out more and discuss your needs.