Merge's Blog

One practical tip to eliminate loss of productivity in meetings

One of the biggest complaints I hear from leaders is about their loss of productivity due to the time they spend in meetings.  Most leaders attend more than 60 meetings a month.  Research shows that over 90% of meeting goers admit to daydreaming; over 70% do other work during meetings; and almost 40% say they have occasionally dozed off while in a meeting.  Clearly, loss of productivity due to meetings is happening every single day.  So for the next four video blog posts, I’m going to focus on specific ideas to stop the loss of productivity that is occurring for you due to those meetings.  Today’s tip: always, always issue a four-column agenda, distributed at least 48 hours in advance of your meeting.

Always issue a four-column agenda

The most common reason we don’t issue agendas is because it seems like a lot of hard work.  But it doesn’t have to be!  One of the best, easiest and most effective ways to develop an agenda is to use a table format using four columns.  Take a sheet of blank paper and draw three vertical lines to create four columns.  Then title the columns as follows:

  1. The agenda item – whatever it is that needs to get done
  2. The name of the person responsible for leading and/or facilitating the agenda item
  3. The required outcome for the specific agenda item. What result do you from this?  For example: group discussion, information, update, decision required, consensus needed, action required, roundtable reporting.
  4. The allotted time for this agenda item. Now here’s a tip: once you have all the allotted times in place for each agenda item, total them, and make sure that the total does not exceed the total time set aside for the meeting.  If it’s over the total time, then you have a problem!
Use this approach for unplanned meetings as well

Now this works really well is you are preparing for regular or planned meetings.  So what happens when you have to call an emergency or spontaneous meeting?  Should you just forget about the agenda?  Absolutely not!  If you find yourself calling an unplanned or emergency meeting, use the first 5 minutes to develop a quick agenda on a white board or flipchart.  Then run it past everyone attending, and DO NOT move forward until you’ve reached agreement on it.

There’s no point in starting a meeting without an agenda.  Running a meeting without an agenda is like driving in a city you’ve never been to before without a map!  You’ll have no idea where you’re going and no idea where you’ll end up!

In our next video blog, I’ll give you another tip on how to stop the loss of productivity that occurs from inefficient meetings.  If you haven’t had a chance to watch the previous video tips in this series, access the links below.

  1. To improve your productivity, write things down!
  2. Here’s how to prioritize your endless to-do list

Or just access this whole series and others in our  Video Archives.

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