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Idea Box: How to Make Your Meetings More Productive so You Can Have Fewer of Them
Want to have fewer, more productive meetings? These tips will show you how.

By Staff
Date Posted: 3/1/2018

Do you love meetings? No, of course not. Most people dread meetings and prefer to have fewer or no meetings because when you are in meetings, you are usually not being productive. We can go into why businesses spend so much time in unproductive meetings, but it’s not going to help your business to understand why. Instead, we’ll focus on how to make meetings more productive.

First, make sure you are having meetings that you really need. Would a phone call or email get the job done just as well? The fact is that most meetings don’t need to happen and are expensive. Think about the hourly cost of each person in a one- or two-hour meeting and how much it would cost if you had to write a check for their time right there on the spot. Somebody is writing a check for the wasted time at some point, but the costs, like so many other costs, are hidden. 

Here are some ideas for making meetings more productive:

                • Have standing meetings – This idea has been around since the 1990s and it can reduce the amount of time spent in meetings. Standing up equals shorter, more productive meetings.

                • Have a clear focus – Make meetings focus on a few key things such as current work priorities, what issues are creating problems, and what needs to be resolved. The bottleneck issues can become action items. A short (as in 30 minutes or less) meeting of this type, daily or weekly, can keep things on track.

                • Don’t forget an agenda – This seems obvious; you’re having a meeting! What’s the agenda? What are we going to talk about? The fact is most meetings have no agenda, and if your company has meetings with no agenda, you are wasting time and money.

                • Appoint a leader and time tracker – Someone should be leading the meeting and someone, perhaps the same person, should be keeping time. But regardless of who does it, someone should be in charge of making sure each meeting stays on track. Determine a realistic amount of time for each topic to be covered, ideally include that in the agenda, and stick to it as much as possible.

                • Avoid trying to solve every problem on the spot – Don’t try to completely solve all problems in the meeting itself. Instead use the meeting to understand and clarify issues. Once you understand a problem that needs to be solved, you can assign the people and resources and track the outcomes in future meetings.

                • Include the right people – Make sure that you have the right number of people and the right people in your meetings. Be careful that you don’t fill up the room with a lot of people who don’t really need to be there.

                • Select good meeting times – Try to have your meetings at times that have the least impact on the company and your customers. That could mean meeting early in the morning or late in the day. This way, meetings are not keeping people from actually doing work when they are likely the most productive or most likely to be servicing customers.

The higher up in an organization you are, the more time you spend in meetings and that means the leadership at your pallet or lumber business would ideally take the initiative to find ways to make meetings more productive. The frustration with unproductive meetings could make a person want to ban meetings, avoiding them altogether, and that’s not realistic. Every organization needs meetings to ensure the business will be successful.

The mission should be accepting that meetings are necessary and learning how to make them positive and productive.

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