This is somewhat off the human resources trail, but we felt that it’s an important topic to address in a blog post.

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Another meeting that feels like it was mostly a squandered use of time. In fact, it’s been said that half of all meetings are either unproductive or don’t need to occur. Meetings that don’t have a clear agenda and those where the conversation strays from the task at hand are typically not a good use of time. For instance, there are plenty of other opportunities in the day for colleagues to discuss last night’s football game or where they are planning to take that next hot holiday. In cases where meetings do need to occur, chances are they can be scheduled for a reduced amount of time. For example, if your meetings are normally scheduled for an hour, try scheduling them for 30 or 45 minutes instead. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much more productive you’ll be in a shorter period of time. And the bonus is that everyone will get some extra office or shop time back. If meetings are constantly being scheduled for longer durations, your calendar will soon be overbooked. It’s also important to question whether or not a meeting is actually necessary. For example, maybe the information can be shared via email or through a quick discussion. As well, it’s important to determine who really needs to be at the meeting. In other words, don’t invite everyone to a meeting just for the sake of inviting everyone!

Yes, meetings need to happen, and yes, they are important. Just ensure that you are utilizing everyone’s time to the fullest when you do get together to discuss important issues.

To recap, a few things to keep in mind:

• Try scheduling your meetings for shorter durations. This will ensure that you make the most of your time together.
• Only invite those to the meeting that need to be there. Information can be shared with other stakeholders via alternate mediums (ie. email, memo, etc.)
• Before you actually call a meeting, ask, “Does this actually require a meeting?” Or is there a different way to solve the problem/issue, or another way to share the information?
• Set an agenda – and stick to the agenda in the meeting – and send this out to participants in advance. That way, individuals will ideally be prepared for the meeting.
• Start and end on time. It can be easy for everyone to get in the habit of showing up at 10:05am for a 10:00am meeting if it’s common for your meetings to start late. Additionally, ensure that all meetings end on time, which is being respectful of everyone’s schedule.

Time is precious, make the most of your work hours by giving some thought to how meetings play a role for both you and those that you employ or manage.

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