If you keep wanting to but don’t know how to reduce meetings, you don’t understand this one important thing:
Most meetings are frustrating time-wasters asking for yet another meeting.
Companies that want to reduce meetings look for either to reduce the number of meetings, reduce meeting time, or eliminate unnecessary meetings.
So how do you reduce meetings at work and have productive meeting time?
(Hint: it involves more than what you do during meetings!)
How the actor-turned-speaker Sam Bennett got rid of timewasters? Watch the video to learn more:
What Are Result-focused Meetings?
Result-focused meetings are meetings with a clear purpose for all participants.
The key question you need to answer before you schedule or agree to a meeting is: What is the purpose of the meeting?
The purpose of the meeting must be:
- Clear to all participants
- Directly beneficial to at least one, and
- Indirectly beneficial to all participants on a team level.
Examples of actionable purposes for an effective meeting are to learn, share, support, connect, answer, or review something.
The meeting purpose can have a personal, relational element or a goal-driven element. Both are valid — but you need to be clear about the one or more meeting purposes to dedicate your time to it.
How to Reduce Meetings at Work
Meetings that are time wasters are:
- Too long
- Held too often
How do you reduce meetings to value-packed windows of team time that are beneficial to everyone?
Much of the action to reduce work meetings is preparatory (needs to be done ahead of the meeting) and integral to the business workflow systems you already have in place.
Start by doing preparations and integrating workflows:
1. Define the goal of the meeting.
Whoever is asking for a meeting must name the goal of the meeting and why every participant must attend. Usually, the goal of the meeting is aligned with the purpose.
Simply by asking about the goal you can reduce meetings to only those with clear goals on behalf of the participants.
Double-check whether periodically scheduled meetings need to go on — maybe they’ve served their purpose.
2. Make meetings voluntary.
You’d be surprised to hear how many meetings go into oblivion or end up much shorter only because they are efficaciously tightened to must-attendees.
Save your team and yourself time by giving a choice about attendance.
3. Foster meeting accountability.
Meeting accountability should be a part of the onboarding process.
Accountable meeting participants have:
- Clearly defined roles
- Responsibility to monitor KPIs they have committed to
- Access to a shared calendar with invite links
Role clarity, a performance (KPI) measurement system, and a meeting management tool are three preconditions necessary to set up a culture of meeting accountability and reduce meetings.
4. Include a meeting agenda.
This one is a no-brainer but still, it doesn’t happen always.
- For large team meetings, have a person (Project Manager, e.g.) who is responsible for creating an agenda in a written form and ensuring participants stick to it.
- For smaller one-on-one meetings, develop a system in which the host is responsible for the written agenda.
The agenda should be part of the invite and shared via the invite calendar link.
5. Build a transparent tracking system.
To reduce the number of meetings and meeting time, you need a dual tracking system:
- Work-tracking system — a shared workflow system where you see everyone’s work tasks with details, due dates, and checklists (Trello, for example.)
- Result-tracking system — This is a system that allows you to look at result progress, and don’t just talk at meetings. (Profitability tracking or accounting software, for example.)
Transparency and trust are essential elements of high-performing teams and should be applied as efficiency principles to reduce meetings.
6. Create meeting rules everyone respects.
Adhering to meeting rules incorporates having a meeting moderator and sticking to the agenda. Everyone owns their KPIs and can present them visibly to the team.
7. Promote solution-oriented thinking before the meeting.
Ask participants to think actively in terms of identifying problems and finding solutions.
Developing your team’s problem-solving skills is a leadership strategy you should apply all the time, regardless of your efforts to minimize meeting time.
8. Align outputs and outcomes with goals.
Business outputs are activities that describe the immediate results — the end creation of a process or deliverables.
Business outcomes are performance-related indicators.
For instance, the number of cold calls is an output. The number of leads generated from cold calling is an outcome.
The alignment between outputs and outcomes identifies how close you are to business goals.
Listen to the Virtual Frontier Podcast in your car or at the gym:
Although this business growth strategy is not directly related to meetings, you can use it to reduce meetings by asking your team to engage in goal-promoting activities during meetings, i.e. those that align outputs and outcomes.
9. Draw a distinction between work-based and result-based meetings.
- Work-based meetings are daily and asynchronous. Instead of Zoom, use video recording software to send one-way messages.
- Result-based meetings are weekly, and both synchronized and asynchronous. Measuring KPIs, removing blockers, and asking for support are examples of effective actions for weekly meetings.
10. Lead to reduce meetings.
The vital component to reducing meetings at work is to lead properly. Encourage your team to:
⇒ Take ownership
⇒ Prepare questions to find solutions and learn
⇒ Ask for support
⇒ Talk openly about problems
⇒ Commit to KPIs
Need help in establishing effective leadership skills to reduce meetings and maximize productivity in less than a week?
Master your time.