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How to stop wasting time in meetings

While many can agree that the majority of business meetings are a waste of time, in some companies, meetings are inevitable.

But even though people working in these organisations cannot simply ‘quit’ having meetings, there are ways they can reduce the time-wasting drain that converts a short 15-minute meeting, into an hour of wasted productivity. Here are fives ways to do this:

Schedule shorter meetings
One of the simplest ways to have shorter meetings is to set a shorter time by outlining the strict start and finish time of a meeting. Try changing the settings in your work calendar so that you can edit the default meeting times to be shorter.

Have a clear agenda
Quite often, meetings lack agendas and those in attendance are left guessing what ‘Mr Smith presentation’ specifically entails. Clearing up this confusion at the meeting is also time-consuming. Good agendas use complete sentences that describe not only who is presenting, but also the precise topic they will present.

Start and finish on time
Don’t punish the prompt by waiting for someone who is late for the meeting. A simple trick to make people be on time for meetings is to set the starting time at an irregular time e.g. 9.07 am instead of 9.00 am, as most people arrive at the same time they would for the 9.00 am meeting, and the usual tardy staff arrive on time.

Circulate meeting material before the meeting
Provide material in advance for everyone to read so you can have a productive discussion and staff inputs on a topic.

Stick to the agenda
Don’t let others hijack the meeting. When someone questions an issue that is not on the meeting agenda, politely ask the person if they would like to organise their own meeting for the new topic. This informs people that you mean to accomplish the things for which you called the meeting in the first place.

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