You Don't Need a Meeting For That: 7 Ways to Ease Your Team's Meeting Load
One of the most common complaints from tech people is the huge amount of time wasted on and in meetings. I have heard people say more than once, "Only on a meeting-less day can I actually get some work done."
In today's fast-paced, hi-tech world, where remote and hybrid working models have become the norm, meetings have taken on a new dimension of complexity and importance. But while meetings are essential for collaboration and decision-making, they can also become a time sink if not managed efficiently.
In this post, I aim to help you find ways to keep meetings shorter and reduce their frequency, especially if your organization has a hybrid working arrangement.
Here are the best strategies I have learned from years of experience:
1. No objective – no meeting
Each meeting should have a specific purpose and, most importantly, a desired outcome. When organizing a meeting, ask yourself, "What do we aim to achieve?" and communicate these objectives in advance. This helps everyone prepare and stay on topic during meetings, reducing the need for lengthy discussions.
2. Sync Less, Achieve More
In a hybrid-working world, asynchronous communication can be a game-changer. So, instead of scheduling meetings for routine updates or status checks, use collaboration tools like Slack or project management software to share progress reports, updates, and important information. This allows team members to access and respond to information at their convenience, reducing the need for time-consuming meetings.
3. Stand-up isn't a comedy
If your organization has adopted Agile methodologies, make sure you do it right! Many teams have forgotten that a stand-up meeting should be done while… standing. And for a good reason – to keep it brief and to the point. If you feel you and your team are getting too comfortable on your daily or weekly stand-ups that are taking too much of your time, remind yourselves of its original purpose: to keep everyone in the loop without monopolizing their time.
4. Time your team
Besides implementing Agile methodologies, establishing strict time limits is one of the most effective ways to shorten meetings. Encourage meeting organizers to stick to their allocated time slots, whether it's 15, 30, or 60 minutes. You can even motivate your team by offering incentives, such as an extra working-from-home day for successfully concluding a set number of meetings on time.
5. Meeting-Free Days are working-full days
Remember the beginning of my post? Consider implementing designated "meeting-free" days or blocks of time to allow people uninterrupted focus on their tasks. This approach can reduce meeting fatigue and enhance productivity, especially in a hybrid working environment where employees juggle different work modes.
6. Not all meetings are a must
Regularly evaluate the necessity and effectiveness of recurring meetings. Use feedback from participants to identify areas for improvement. If a meeting consistently fails to achieve its objectives, consider eliminating it or finding alternative communication methods.
7. Culture shifts over time
It takes time to get used to saving time in meetings. To gradually cultivate a workplace culture that values everyone's time, start by encouraging respectful behavior during meetings, such as arriving on time, adhering to the agenda, and actively participating. This culture shift will eventually lead to more efficient and purposeful meetings.
I hope you can adopt at least one of these tips, and if you'd like even more, I'm glad to send them your way - no need for a meeting! Just email me, and we'll save both your time and mine. After all, in the world of meetings, every minute saved is a minute closer to your next coffee break.