How to Improve Meeting Effectiveness
In the corporate work environment, meetings get a pretty bad rap. For many employees, few things evoke the levels of apprehension brought on by a pointless or unproductive company meeting. Even still, meetings are an important – if not integral – part of the workday, from ad hoc to recurring monthly regroups. According to one study, most people label 50% of the time spent in work-related meetings as “wasted.” With an average of 31 hours lost to meetings per employee each month, many organizations have a lot of room to improve meeting culture.Most people label 50% of the time spent in work-related #meetings as wasted. Click To Tweet
Believe It or Not, There Are Metrics to Measure Meeting Success
If you find yourself wondering how to improve meeting effectiveness, think back to the last meeting you attended. On a scale of “watching an entire Netflix show in one weekend” to “I finished my Christmas shopping in October,” how productive was it? More importantly, why was (or wasn’t) it effective?
Here are a few tangible data points to help you answer this question:
1) Did the meeting start on time?
Timeliness is the first and easiest way to measure the effectiveness of your meeting. Imagine your meeting starts five minutes late. It isn’t difficult to make up that time by going five minutes over, right? It seems like a simple solution, but starting your meeting on time may be more important than you think.
If the meeting starts late, you’ll have to regain that time by running a few minutes over time. But this isn’t the only time wasted; assuming some participants were ready on time, an additional five minutes per attendee were wasted waiting for tardy co-workers to arrive. In the end, you’ve actually wasted twice as much time as you thought you did.
2) Did you spend as much time in the meeting as you planned?
It’s okay to set aside a little more time than you actually need for your meeting. That’s foresight. If your meetings routinely take up significantly more time than they should, take a step back and examine the cause. Once you understand why, you can start implementing changes to improve potential weak spots.
Questions to consider:
- Are some participants talking more than others?
- Is the team struggling to stay on track / getting distracted?
- Did you underestimate the time it would take to complete the agenda?
- Would the meeting take less time if attendees were more prepared?
3) How many people attended the meeting?
Some people skip meetings or they may be double booked. However, if team members are habitually absent, your meeting culture could have a problem. As a rule of thumb, the percentage of people who skip larger meetings tends to be greater than the percentage of no-shows for smaller gatherings. Even still, you should expect most people to attend and participate.
4) What action items did the meeting produce?
Generally, meetings that end with action items are productive. An action item means the team made a decision and has a plan. If you sense your meeting going off the beaten path, keep its original purpose in mind and facilitate decisions related to your objective. Are you looking for ways to facilitate sales? Increase employee engagement? Improve quality control? If the meeting strays from this goal, bring it back. Conversely, if you walk out of a meeting without anything on your to-do list, reevaluate what happened and try to figure out why.
Read next: How to Improve Your Team’s Productivity
Gather Company-Wide Data & Evaluate
By tracking these metrics across your organization (not just the meetings you attend), you’ll get an accurate picture of your company’s meeting “culture” – the attitudes people have toward them and how effective they are. If meeting lacks takeaway action items, for instance, set a goal to walk away with some and make your meetings more purposeful. Once you’ve implemented a plan, revisit these metrics at a later time to measure your success. As you fine-tune your strategy, your meeting metrics should improve as well.
Want to learn more about metrics and corporate management? Check out our blog, 5 Essential Project Management Metrics You Can’t Ignore, to help you make your meetings even more effective.
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