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‘Research suggests that of the 23 hours leaders spend in meetings each week, on average, 8 hours are unproductive’ as I just read in an article by S. Rogelberg In HBR. Wow, what a waste of time! According to the same article, the actual time wasted amounts to 30 billion$ a year in the US alone!! In addition to the money wasted, think about all the things that you could do with that time if you would spend it more meaningfully.
How often have you complained about having to participate in yet another conference call or meeting which you did not consider productive? How often have you found yourself daydreaming during a meeting?
In my perception, meetings are often perceived as unproductive or not useful because we do not spend enough time reflecting on how the meeting time links to the use of our own time. We do not question the meaning of the meeting enough.
So here are a few tips for the next time you are faced with ‘having to’ attend a meeting:
- Before the meeting
- Question the routine: Some meetings take place every week or every month and nobody may even remember anymore why they were started in the first place. Go back to the initial intent of the meeting time and refresh its scope.
- Be specific on time and content: Ask how long the meeting will take and what the agenda is. This gives you the possibility to question both timing and content before the meeting. Perhaps some items could be better discussed by mail or in a one-on-one conversation.
- During the meeting
- Check-in with yourself, not just your body: Make sure you do a proper ‘check-in’ before each meeting; are you really there or just your body?
- Be your own leader : How does this meeting connect with what drives you individually? The more you can make that link, the more energy you will feel.
- Value your meeting time: Being a leader means first and foremost taking up your personal leadership. Practise your communication skills during the meeting and find a good balance between listening, observing and speaking your truth.
- Involve a good facilitator: Leading and facilitating are 2 different things and they often do not mix well together. In particular for important meetings, involving a good facilitator makes a world of difference.
- After the meeting
- Collect your key take-aways: Make sure you schedule some time for reflection after the meeting. 10 minutes will do to write down your key take-aways. Focus not only on what to do but also on how you were during the meeting. What gave you energy? What drained your energy? Use this information to prepare for your next meeting.
Wishing you lots of meaningful meetings!