12 Tips To Make Meetings Suck Less

by Lisa Bodell for [email protected]

Have you heard the one about a weekly meeting that wasted 300,000 hours a year? The one that isn’t a joke at all but an actual statistic from Bain & Company? While the number is nauseating, it’s not particularly surprising. From my interactions with leaders and employees around the world, meetings are a growing source of frustration and resentment.

For many of us, only a few meetings are productive and time-saving — the rest are the reason we don’t have time to focus on valuable work. So how can we reduce the role of meetings in our day to make room for work that actually moves our business forward? By adjusting our existing habits and organizational policy around meetings. Start by experimenting with the 12 pro tips below:

  1. Perform a meeting audit—and cancel all unproductive meetings. After several divisions at Sprint reviewed the value of meetings held in the previous year — including events, off-sites, and team gatherings — the company eliminated 30% of them. Conduct your own meeting audit and cancel every meeting that doesn’t add value or has outlived its original purpose.
  2. Decline invites to unnecessary or irrelevant meetings. When Accenture performed a meeting audit to determine the overall cost of time and resources, it empowered its managers to decline meetings without guilt, fear, or penalty.
  3. Don’t attend any meeting with more than eight people. Follow Google’s lead and limit attendees to people who need to provide input. Afterward, share the decisions made in the meeting with those who will benefit from the information, but would’ve otherwise been silent bystanders.

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