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A shocking $37 billion are wasted every year on unproductive meetings.

Meetings that go round in circles, achieve nothing but a follow up meeting and meetings in which everybody is multitasking rather than actually focusing on the objectives are frustrating and a waste of everybody’s time.

As we rise up the corporate ladder we spend more and more time in meetings with senior managers spending at least 50% of their days in meetings – some productive and some not so productive. Wouldn’t it be great if we could limit the amount of time we spend in meetings so we could focus on other things that will yield dividends?

Here are 7 ideas for doing just that…

  1. Make it a stand up meeting.

This creates an atmosphere of urgency; if we don’t sit down, psychologically speaking we don’t feel we are there for the long term and so can focus on achieving outcomes faster. It is also harder to multitask and get distracted wen you are standing up!

  1. Use a bell or time keeper

Set time limits for each agenda item and assign a time keeper or ring a bell to signal when time is up. This works really well when the time is visual too ie. projected on the wall or if there is a clock that is well placed for everyone to see. Moving on after the bell has sounded is really important or the benefits will be lost. If an agenda item needs more time, the group can agree to come back to it, time permitting.

  1. Cut the number of agenda items in half.

People are more focused and productive in short bursts so shorter meetings that attempt to cover less information work much better.

  1. Invite half the number of participants

Too many participants mean too many axes to grind, too many opinions to consider so only invite people who are absolutely vital to the meeting outcomes.

  1. Ban AOB

Any Other Business often becomes a bit of a free for all so banning it prevents time wasted on general discussions – if the item is important to discuss participants must put it on the agenda beforehand.

  1. Use a Parking Lot

The parking lot allows you to stay focused on the reason you’re there without getting side tracked by issues that are important but can be taken off-line. Writing down topics in the parking lot means you don’t forget about them too.

  1. 10 minute rule

Give each agenda item a time limit of 10 minutes so it encourages people to cut to the chase. In reality, this rule might be a 15 minute or 20 minute rule but the premise is the same. Short, sharp bursts of focused activity with the emphasis placed on outcomes.

With these strategies it is much more likely that your meetings will be a success!