BRAINSTORMING

How to Make Your Meetings Insanely Productive

One simple change to your meeting protocol will eliminate 90 percent of the time that's wasted.
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The time wasted in business meetings is like the weather: Everyone complains about it, but nobody ever does anything about it. Well, today we're going to change that.

The biggest misconception about business meetings is that they're a good way to communicate and share information. Frankly, that's ludicrous.

When meetings are used for conveying information, it forces everyone to spend time and mental energy understanding what was said and what it means.

Then, when it comes to making decisions about what needs to be done, everyone is thinking on the fly using that half-digested information.

By contrast, when everyone comes into a meeting knowing what has happened (i.e., information), you can jump immediately to discussing what needs to happen next and then making decisions to make that happen.

In other words, use your valuable meeting time to create the future rather than summarize the past.

Every meeting should have a pre-meeting email that summarizes the information that's needed to make decisions as well as a tentative agenda of the decisions that need to be made.

Yes, this requires more upfront work than simply calling a meeting where everyone goes over their list. It means preparing for the meeting rather than taking the lazy path of just showing up.

But think about the benefits! No more sitting through long presentations. No more spinning your wheels while everyone else gets up to speed. No more showing up at a meeting just to discover what it's about.

You go in, you discuss what to do, you make a decision. Boom! A meeting that would have taken an hour or more only takes 10 to 15 minutes.

Multiply this times the number of meetings that you (and everyone else) attend each year and you're talking about hundreds or even thousands of person-hours that can now be spent doing something productive.

That's a truly insane increase in productivity. All because of a little prep work. It's really that easy.

Preorder my new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, and get an exclusive bonus chapter (for you and a friend) as well as a signed bookplate. Details HERE.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Apr 11, 2014

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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