Do You Really Need to Call That Meeting?

BY Kathy Crosett
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If it feels like you’re spending half of your workday in meetings, you’re not wrong. In a recent SmartBrief​.com post, Julie Winkle Giuloni cites the Association for Talent Development statistics which show that the typical mid-​manager spends up to 4 hours a day in meetings. Here are a few suggestions to cut down on meeting time.

To cut down on the amount of time you’re locked in the conference room, think about the next meeting you’re planning to schedule. Giuloni suggests asking a few key questions designed to make that meeting ‘powerful and productive.’

What Are You Trying to Accomplish?

Meetings are the perfect venue to have team members discuss topics like which features should be included in the next product release. If you’ve already decided which features are going to be included, and there’s no room for discussion, don’t hold a meeting. Post what’s happening on the common wall or send out an email. Nobody wants to sit in a meeting and listen to you justify decisions that have been made.

Do You Need Several Sources of Input?

There’s nothing worse than running from one cubicle to another trying to nail down how much the multi-​site license will cost for a new product. When there are multiple sources of input who must negotiate and discuss the pros and cons of a decision, it’s time to arrange a meeting. The decision-​making process will be smoother when the key players are in the same room or on the same conference call together.

Have You Created an Agenda?

Meetings can quickly go off the rails in the absence of strong leadership. If you have to call together players who frequently argue about topics unrelated to the meeting, take charge in advance. Send out an agenda that details a hard start and stop time. Assign tasks to key participants. For example, if the budget office needs to put together an analysis showing the impact on revenue from three different pricing levels, make sure that gets done in advance. If the sales manager needs to provide her best guess regarding how many contracts can be closed in the first half of the year, send out an action item with a deadline set well before meeting day.

Many of the meetings you’re sitting in probably aren’t necessary. With a little advance planning, you can cut down on your conference room time. And, when a meeting is absolutely, positively necessary, do some leg-​work ahead of time to reduce the number of minutes you'll have to sit in that uncomfortable chair.