According to TheMuse.com, there are 25 million meetings each day in the United States and 15% of an organization's total time is spent in meetings each year. If that is true in the U.S., imagine what it’s like up here in Canada!
Right now, the average employee spends an average of four hours each week preparing for meetings.
Couldn't this time be going to something more productive?
While meetings are an old standby in the small business environment, they're not nearly as productive as they could be. In fact, you may be better off ditching meetings entirely.
Here's what you need to know.
The first question is, why don't meetings work? According to Entrepreneur (which calls meetings "one of the worst business rituals ever"), there are dozens of reasons. Here are a few of the top contenders:
Throughout my working life, I’ve often had the experience of being eyeballs-deep in a project only to be called away for a meeting. Typically, the project I was working on is more important than the meeting will be, but I’m nonetheless forced to break my focus to attend. Distractions just like these cost companies millions of dollars annually and can be devastating to employee morale.
They don't ever stay on topic
One of the largest problems with meetings is that they tend to wander off topic. No matter what the meeting was originally called to discuss, the chances are slim that it will stay on that line of thinking for very long. Because of this, lifestyle design experts like Tim Ferris recommend taking an aggressive approach when it comes to meetings.
"No meeting or call should last more than 30 minutes," he says, and I agree with him. In a viral blog called “The Not-to-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now,” Ferriss advises requesting an objective and agenda in advance, and "if people balk, tell them it's so you can 'best prepare and make good use of the time together.'" This approach will go a long way toward helping meeting stay on topic.
Meetings include people that don't need to be there
In any given meeting, the number of individuals that need to be there is approximately half the number of people in the room.
In small businesses, meetings are scheduled without much thought of who will attend them. Adding more people to a room, naturally, increases the amount of feedback and slows the progress of the meeting.
Meetings take up too much time
At the end of the day, one of the biggest issues with meetings is that they take up so much time within a business – especially in a small company with between 1-30 employees. For small businesses, time is scarce, and filling it with pointless meetings is one of the best ways to harm productivity and damage overall output.
Meetings by the Numbers
Still not convinced that meetings aren’t doing you any good? Here are a few startling statistics you should know, courtesy of Emily Pidgeon’s fantastic TED article, “The Economic Impact of Bad Meetings:”
- 90% of people who attend meetings daydream while the meeting is underway
- 50% of employees believe that meetings are unproductive
- 73% of employees finish other work or work on other projects during meetings
- 75% of people who conduct meetings have never had any formal training on how to lead a productive meeting
- 25% of all meetings are spent discussing unimportant or irrelevant issues. If you remember that there are 25 million meetings each day., this comes out to 6.25 million meetings daily.
3 Steps to Manage Time More Efficiently in an Office Setting
Now that you know what time-wasters meetings can be, let's talk about how to manage time more efficiently in your small business. Here are some tips:
1. If you must have a meeting, make a list of talking points in advance and set a time limit
This comes straight out of the playbook of Tim Ferris. While meetings are typically a waste of time, some offices won't feel comfortable getting rid of them entirely. That said, set strict parameters around meetings.
Before the meeting begins, send out a list of talking points. Once you've done that, set a definite start and end time and stick to them. This will help prevent meeting overrun and keep people on topic.
How do you keep meetings on track?
You might want to try a tool like Worklife along with staying strict to Tim's methods.
Worklife automates meeting best practices for your entire team or small business. It ensures that meetings have agendas, that the conversation stays on track, and that meeting notes and action items are effectively communicated.
This goes for meetings, chain emails, and more. When you add more cooks to the kitchen, things get busy and disorganized, and your company’s time goes down the drain. As such, Jason Fried (author of Rework) recommends that you only include the people that truly need to be involved.
3. Order services online
Thanks to the Internet of Things, we have more freedom than ever to conduct marketing without meeting or discussing it with other people. Wherever it's appropriate for your business, consider ordering services online.
Things like content creation, SEO, and website development can all be managed and ordered online. This will save you an enormous amount of time and rescue you and your employees from those hair-tearing meetings
The death of the meeting has arrived and we're all the better for it. By doing away with unnecessary meetings and setting strict parameters on the meetings we do need to have, we can make our daily lives more productive more streamlined and more efficient. And by ordering needed services online, we can save money, save time, and produce better work.
Do you need to order marketing tasks online for your company? At Evolving Solutions, we’re opening a new online shop in 2017. This shop will handle your marketing needs – remotely. From custom image design to professional copywriting, our team is here to handle your marketing needs in an efficient, cost-effective, and productive manner. Check it out today!