It is possible your company is holding too many meetings. Of course, meetings are essential, allowing collaborative ideas to be shared and encouraging creativity and innovation. Meetings also ensure that genuine relationships are strengthened within a team. However, holding an excessive number of meetings can have the opposite effect.

A disproportionate amount of meetings can distract employees from their necessary work. Not only are they time-consuming, but also an employee must revolve their day around a scheduled meeting. They may put off lengthier tasks due to the required meeting attendance or rearrange their schedule and routine which affects productivity and focus.

It can be stressful for an individual to have too many meetings scheduled across a day or two and if they overlap there is no time for reflection. The day is limited with less time to focus on tasks, thus productivity slows and the company’s profitability suffers.

The employee also feels frustrated, being unable to complete their job to the best of their ability, and perhaps losing job satisfaction. Excessive meetings can promote a controlling atmosphere of mistrust.

Meetings are necessary, and when done properly, are beneficial for all.

At TMS, we make a conscious effort to keep the number of scheduled meetings to a minimum. We believe that meetings should be extremely efficient and a conduit for change.

Scheduling meetings is a six steps process, which improves productivity, communication, and integration of the team’s work. In addition, it can boost job satisfaction and work/life balance.

This article will recommend these steps to ensure that your next scheduled meeting isn’t one too many.

Firstly, is this meeting necessary?

Firstly, is this meeting necessary?

Meetings are often costly, high-pressure, and time-consuming, so if it isn’t necessary, then don’t schedule it. First, think about the purpose of the meeting and what resolutions you require. If this can be achieved via email, or with a quick chat then take that option.

Your company could consider providing employees with allocated time solely to focus on their projects and tasks. This could involve designating a set amount of time each week to use in the office or at home. Employees will benefit from the flexibility and freedom that comes with focusing on their independent work, so they’ll feel more motivated, engaged in meetings, and able to deliver updates on their work.

If yes, then create an agenda

If yes, then create an agenda

A meeting agenda should be created by the person calling the meeting. It should be prepared and sent to participants ahead of time to allow them to prepare for the meeting. The agenda should outline your clear, concise objectives and expectations with allocated discussion time for each item.

The agenda should give an indication of the invitees and the length of the meeting.

Make sure you only invite the people who need to be there

Make sure you only invite the people who need to be there

You should not be paying employees for them to sit in a meeting unnecessarily, whilst a couple of people talk. As well as leaving a participant feeling deflated, bored, and tired for the rest of the day, it builds resentment towards meetings in the future thus the conversation should be relevant for all participants.

By only inviting key people, your meeting will stay structured as these individuals will help achieve the desired outcomes. Fewer people make decision-making easy, whereas excessive people in the room may divert the conversation.

Schedule the meeting correctly

Schedule the meeting correctly

The most effective time to schedule a meeting is usually at the beginning or end of the workday. This allows participants to have large blocks of uninterrupted time for the rest of the day, where they can focus on their work.

Invite the key people for the meeting and schedule it to their work calendars with enough notice. Include the time, duration, and location in the meeting invitation, whether you use Google Calendar or Slack, and attach the agenda and any needed materials. Ask the participants to send a response to confirm attendance.

The meeting should only last as long as it needs to

The meeting should only last as long as it needs to

Sometimes a longer meeting is necessary, but the shorter, the better. The first hour of a meeting is usually the most productive.

If you have scheduled a meeting and finish ahead of schedule, do not be tempted to use the remaining time to discuss another topic. Participants will not be prepared, and you will not necessarily have the key people, thus the meeting will become lengthy, unfocused, and unproductive.

Also, people appreciate unexpected time gains. It may mean that work will not have to be taken home, and objectives can be met during the workday. This helps with the work/life balance. So rather than extend the meeting, give them the time to return to their tasks with fresh ideas.

Ensure everybody is able to speak

Decision-making does not mean the majority of people simply nodding their heads in agreement. Use meetings to ask people for opinions and insights. A leader should encourage everybody to be involved in the process and offer their own solutions, plans, and decisions.

When assigning tasks or marking a project, ask individuals for their thoughts, and listen to their opinions.

This will make an individual feel that it was worthwhile being in the meeting and feel more optimistic whatever the outcome.

If you enjoyed reading this article on too many meetings, you should check out this one about virtual teams.

We also wrote about a few related subjects like team meeting agenda and what makes a good manager.