How to Lose Less Time to Meetings

By Sarah Salvo | Updated: 03 May, 2016

As a leader, there’s a good chance your day is dominated by meetings. While meetings are important and necessary to move your business forward, they eat up a lot of time, which can negatively impact your ability to lead and manage in the long run. Meetings are here to stay: so why not hack them and make them more productive? Here are ways you can minimize time lost and restore your meetings’ efficiency and effectiveness.

Get Everyone Focused

Drawn-out meetings tend to have zero pre-determined discussion points and unprepared attendants. Avoid this by instituting the following best practices to ensure your meetings are efficient and the attendees are prepared:

  1. Create a Meeting AgendaMeeting Agenda – What’s the use of a meeting when no one knows what it’s for? An agenda can clearly outline the topics to discuss and who’s leading the discussion. You can take it one step further and allot ‘discussion time’ per topic. Send out the agenda as part of the meeting invitation to ensure all attendees receive it and don’t lose it in their inbox.
  2. Arrive 2 Minutes Early – How many meetings have you heard “let’s wait a couple more minutes for the stragglers”? By the time they arrive, the meeting is running late and everyone’s started off on the wrong foot. By instituting arriving 2 minutes early, you give yourself and all the attendees the chance to start the meeting on time and end on time, as promised on the invitation.
  3. Send Out Meeting Minutes to Recap– Meetings are meant to update the group on new and ongoing projects, vet any issues, and assign action items. Help keep your people accountable by assigning someone to take notes during the meeting and send it out to all attendees afterward, noting what was discussed in more detail, including any action items that were assigned and to whom it was assigned.

Ask Yourself: Do I Really Need to Be There?

The higher up in position, the more meeting invitations you’ll receive– but this doesn’t mean you should be accepting them all. Ask yourself: “would the meeting be postponed if I couldn’t be present?” If not, then it’s likely you don’t need to go. Still unsure? Look over the discussion topics on the agenda to determine if your input is needed. If not, decline the invitation.

Despite missing certain meetings, you can (and should) be in the loop of what was discussed by following up with the meeting facilitator or getting the meeting minutes afterward. If you’re still unsure or are uncomfortable with declining so many meetings, why not delegate your meeting attendance to an assistant who knows what you’re looking for and can take notes in your stead.

At times you may have high-priority meetings that overlap and your attendance is required at both. Since human cloning isn’t readily available, request that your topic be addressed first at the first meeting and towards the end of the second meeting. Although brief, you will still be able to attend and lead the discussion of your topic at both meetings.

Short term fixes only band aid the problem. In the long run, you need to take a look at incorporating power scheduling into your daily routine. If you prioritize your calendar based on true necessity, you’ll find more time throughout the day to work on other, more important projects that grow your business. Remember: At the end of the day, meetings are meant to facilitate team members’ knowledge-sharing and collaboration. While they may stray from that ideal at times, they are a necessary tool to keep your business connected and constantly growing.