Meetings are terrible. Aside from the logistical difficulties of getting your core team members in the same place at the same time, they can often feel unproductive--even wasteful.
Here are four expert tips for making the most of your next meeting.
Most meetings--61 percent--occur on either Wednesday or Thursday, according to data from the video conferencing service Blue Jeans Network. The company analyzed data from 250,000 meetings--and over one million meeting participants--in its client network to compile a list of productivity tips for meeting organizers.
Top rule: Schedule your meeting for an off-peak day or hour, says Blue Jeans CCO Stu Aaron.
Picking a less popular time will ensure that team members are available--and recharged--for your session, he says. Some overlooked time slots, according to the data: Monday and Tuesday afternoons around 3 p.m.
Start a joke pool.
According to the Blue Jeans data, over 50 percent of meeting participants are late. If you subscribe to the "time is money" philosophy, this means you're wasting dollars every minute you have to wait for tardy attendees. Cut down on costs--to your bottom line and to your patience--by giving employees an incentive to be prompt.
"Create some penalty for being late," Aaron suggests. You can have employees put money into the office pizza fund, for example, or require late arrivals to bring donuts for the whole group. Aaron likes to have late employees tell a joke before the meeting.
"It's a great way to encourage punctuality," he says. "The added pressure of having to tell a joke in front of colleagues...really scares people."
One of the most annoying things about meetings is that they're so darn long.
"There's often an implicit assumption that most meetings will last for two hours. So there's no rush to think, to commit, to move on," writes serial entrepreneur Margaret Heffernan.
Her solution? Conduct the meeting standing up.
"If you're standing up, you want to cut to the chase and move on--and out. We did this at companies I've led for meetings that were principally to update leadership or coordinate among the team. They never lasted more than 30 minutes," she concludes.
Hold a "closing round."
Ev Williams, co-founder of the blogging site Medium, credits his favorite meeting trick to the social technology firm Holacracy. At the end of every meeting, Williams institutes a closing round to "give everyone a chance to comment on the meeting," Inc.'s Jessica Stillman reports.
In the closing round, Williams writes on Medium, there is no discussion or back-and-forth allowed. People talk for less than 30 seconds or less--just enough to voice their final thoughts.
The closing round is worth doing, because it gives everyone, in a sense, a 'ast word'--the chance to get something off their chest that they might otherwise carry around or whisper to their colleagues later. It creates more mindfulness about what just happened--and how things might go better next time. And it lets you know where the group is at emotionally, as well as potential issues to follow up on that weren’t strictly part of the proceedings.