How many meetings do you have? Are there too many? Do feel meetings help or hinder productivity?
Have you ever felt that workplace meetings are a waste of time? Many people I speak with at organizations believe that they are involved in too many meetings or meetings that last far too long. Meetings certainly have their purpose and of course, are connected to the concept of ensuring effective communication, but how do we measure meeting effectiveness?
First, let’s consider why we hold meetings. There are many different flavors from brainstorming and strategy, to information exchange, to organizing and planning for an upcoming event, and many others. When you ask around it seems that people don’t mind the strategy sessions as much as they do the repetitive information exchange with the same old details, problems, and unresolved issues.
Meeting Management: How Long Should Meetings Last?
In addition, workplace meetings might sometimes be labeled as staff meetings, sales meetings, or department meetings with varying formats, frequencies, and lengths of time. Do these meetings energize people?
Often these regularly held and traditional information updates do not energize. In some cases, these meetings are managed to feel like sessions for bragging rights or workload comparison between people or departments that should feel camaraderie but instead feel more like they are vying for the most kudos or in some type of competition with each other.
Certainly, some friendly internal competition can be effective, but it also has to be managed appropriately and always should reinforce that the organization is most effective as a team and that everyone is in it together.
Are you having Zoom meetings or otherwise engaged in telework? Professionalism and etiquette still matter.
Do you have too many meetings? In order to properly assess if you are having too many meetings, you should first consider the value and productivity of the meetings you already have. You’ll need to consider if the right people are in attendance and if the meetings are the right length of time. You’ll need specific agendas, goals, and recaps along with accountability to ensure you’re getting the most from them.
There is a really good chance that the meetings you have in place are supposed to improve communication but you must keep in mind that the act of simply having a meeting will not necessarily improve communication. Additionally, your meetings will need to have appropriate accountability, respect, and trust.
Do you have poor communication? Is it too much or too little?
You should also consider participant engagement. Today we might hold meetings that include BYOD (bring your own device) or we might attend a meeting that insists on no devices being active, and in others, you might have something in between.
What is important to keep in mind is that some of your meeting participants will already know or perhaps completely understand the information being shared. The meeting becomes boring to them; they get disconnected, distracted, and often completely disengaged.
You must always evaluate how to best serve the entire audience and in some cases, you might want to consider alternative formats or meetings with different participants and different lengths of time.
Do you have effective meetings?
To measure the effectiveness of any meeting at a minimum you must assess:
- Length of time
- Number of participants
- Appropriateness for each participant
- Atmosphere, climate, environment, location
- Rules or guidelines
- Goals, objectives, desired outcomes
- Performance assurance, accountability
Meetings that are not effective, last too long, have the wrong participants, or are held too often or too little will all be problematic for your communication efforts.
When is your next meeting? Will it be effective?
Internal customer service matters just as much as what is reflected externally.
Are you delivering on customer service internally?
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.
This article was originally published on November 21, 2016, last updated on October 13, 2020.