Project meetings. Staff meetings. Sales conferences. Emergency meetings. Collaborative meetings. It’s no wonder experts across the board agree that there are too many meetings in today’s workplace and that most of these meetings are a waste of time. Instead of hosting productive, organized meetings, many office managers struggle to create a productive meeting environment or fail to produce valuable results with employee participation.
A recent Workfront study found that marketers and other business professionals spend nearly 64% of their time in wasteful, unproductive meetings. That leaves a very limited portion of the workday available for completing the tasks, projects, and other to-do’s that are critical for business success. Holding an excessive amount of meetings doesn’t just waste valuable time, it also wastes money and other resources essential for optimal productivity. For example, more than $37 billion per year is spent on unproductive meetings that ultimately waste 15% of an organization’s collective time.
However, by understanding the types of meetings that are and are not productive, you can restructure your meeting schedule to create an environment where employees aren’t just excited to participate, but where time, money, and other resources are used wisely to produce productive results. Furthermore, by implementing various technologies, you can make your meetings even more energetic, constructive, and beneficial.
Pros and Cons of the Popular Meeting Types
As a business professional, you’re probably well aware of the various types of meetings. What you might not know, however, are the benefits and disadvantages that each one has to offer. By understanding the pros and cons of these four popular meeting types, you can determine which meeting structures best suit your needs and which meetings are hindering your company’s success.
1. Communication Meetings – 10% of your meeting load
- The pros: Commonly used to ensure everyone is aware of upcoming policy or leadership changes, company shifts, and other important news, communication meetings are critical in maintaining transparency and consistency across all company levels.
- The cons: Despite the fact that communication meetings should only account for 10% of your meeting load and should only be held when there is important news to share with the entire company, sometimes they are called when something like an email or notification would suffice. Before you schedule a communication meeting, consider talking with team leaders or upper management personnel to determine if a meeting is truly necessary. You might find that you can maintain transparency and disperse information in an equally effective, less time-consuming manner.
2. Idea meetings – 10% of your meeting load
- The pros: Idea meetings, or brainstorming meetings, are often one of your greatest resources when it comes to generating campaign ideas, marketing solutions, and other strategies. Gathering employees with creative minds, various talents, and differing ideas is a great way to keep your company’s competitive edge and fresh approach to typically mundane topics.
- The cons: As free-flowing and constructive as idea meetings can be, they can also quickly get off-track. What started out as a productive meeting might soon turn into something much less if you don’t develop (and stick to!) a strict meeting itinerary. When planning your idea meetings, be sure to include times slots where you get everyone to pause and refocus, if necessary. By maintaining a regular idea meeting schedule (i.e. every first Thursday of the month) you can create a cadence that encourages your employees to sustain a forward-thinking mentality.
3. Collaborative meetings – 30-40% of your meeting load
- The pros: Collaborative meetings are perhaps the most powerful tool you have to maintain solidarity and unity in the workplace. These meetings can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to things like altering the way your team approaches projects or developing new ways to accomplish critical tasks. Collaborative meetings are also advantageous for delegating work, assigning responsibilities, and inspiring creativity.
- The cons: Though these meetings are typically approached with the best of intentions, gathering different people together to discuss and collaborate on a specific project or task can sometimes lead to unwanted tensions within the group. Conflicting personalities, working styles, ideas, and approaches can distract team members from the task at hand and can occasionally stall progress rather than promote it.
4. Status meetings – 40-50% of your meeting load
- The pros: As you know, status meetings are vital for maintaining accuracy and timeliness on the progress of specific projects or tasks. One of the biggest advantages of status meetings is that they keep everyone on the same page and provide opportunities to make necessary adjustments to keep the project on track. From brainstorming different ways of overcoming obstacles to preparing for and anticipating potential future challenges.
- The cons: Ill-preparedness is a great threat to successful status meetings. If your team members don’t have enough time to be adequately prepared, they won’t be able to contribute in an effective manner. Status meetings are also incredibly prone to negativity, as it’s easy to focus on the problems and challenges being presented rather than the milestones you’ve already accomplished.
Meetings That Matter
From getting team members on the same page to brainstorming new ideas, every meeting has its purpose. However, by the time you reach your fourth meeting of the day, you might start to wonder, “Are all of these meetings really necessary?”
The short answer is no.
No two projects are the same. Each presents challenges, obstacles, and details that vary from the last. So why hold the same meetings week after week? Instead of scheduling meetings with a generic agenda or default time length, consider blocking off five-minute increments and trying to limit the meeting time to no more than four increments.
If you try breaking meeting times down into specific increments and still find yourself and your team wasting valuable resources on meetings, take a minute to consider the effectiveness of each specific meeting type. Communication meetings are essential and can be kept simple and brief; idea meetings are critical for the progression and success of your team, and collaboration meetings are often your go-to resource for keeping projects moving forward. Status meetings, however, can probably be nixed from the meeting roster.
Status Meetings Gone Stale
Status meetings were created to facilitate visibility, preparedness, and creativity throughout the lifespan of a project. They were also created and implemented long before the invention of modern technology like email, instant messaging, and collaboration software that can keep everyone on the same page without wasting valuable man hours.
If you’re eager to lessen your meeting load, cut status meetings from your repertoire and find alternative ways to keep team members up to speed on project details. Taking advantage of modern technology to maintain coherence throughout the team will help you cut back on unnecessary meeting times and enable you and your staff to concentrate on aspects of business success that matter most.
Tech Therapy for the Meeting Weary
By utilizing modern project management solutions, not only can you save valuable company resources like time and money, but you can also enable your team to operate in the most effective way possible. For example, instead of calling a status meeting to get updated on the progress of each team, you can implement a software program that allows team leaders to broadcast status updates instantaneously with built-in updates that are quick and easy to use. Whether everything is going smoothly or a certain team sector is struggling with major roadblocks, using technology (as opposed to status meetings) gives coordinators, managers, and relevant parties the chance to have consistent, constant visibility throughout every stage of the project.
Though meetings cannot be wiped off the office agenda entirely, there are certainly different ways you can utilize modern technology to eliminate the common cons of popular meeting types. By implementing and relying on specific communication technologies like email, instant messenger, Google Docs, and others, you can cut back on unnecessary, time-consuming meetings and improve your company’s communication, productivity, and overall record of success.