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Are you suffering from Meetingtitis? How to avoid unproductive meetings

Written by: Jerom

First, let´s do a simple test...Do you spend all day running from one meeting to another that are pointless and inconclusive? Does your meeting requests include topics that can easily be solved via email or with a quick phone call? On the busy days do you barely have time for lunch or for even going to the bathroom? If most of your answers are YES, then read this article! You are in a company that has Meetingtitis and the cure is to learn how to avoid unproductive meetings.

What is Meetingtitis?

Meetingtitis is the habit of having a meeting just to have one, or to keep the routine of having meetings even though they don't have a purpose or clear focus. It generates in employees the feeling of wasting time and being unproductive. Normally occurs in big companies, specially multinational

Nobody has ever said Meetings are the best part of my day, the more the better!”, and that has a reason. Meetings are not -or most of them are not- what they suppose to be. A meeting should be an organized gathering, with the right people at the right time (ideally in the morning) to serve a useful purpose.

Unfortunately in reality companies run under the philosophy that employees need to meet for absolutely everything: Meet to generate ideas and discuss them. Meet again to filter those ideas. Meet the week after to review the rejected ideas (just in case), plus an extra meeting to check again the selected ones...and so on.. and so on.. and so on. That is meetingtitis, the virus that makes you think you need to meet for absolutely everything. Email has contributed to its proliferation by making it all too easy to invite a whole bunch of people to gather round a table by just hitting ‘send’, rather than considering whether the goal could be accomplished some other way.


Say what? 3 interesting facts about unproductive meetings:

  • Workers spend on average 3 hours a day in meetings, over a third of which are considered unproductive.
  • The average person’s attention span in a face-to-face meeting is 35 minutes, and just 23 minutes on a conference call.
  • Meetings are expensive. You do the math: write down how much time you spend in meetings, then multiply that by your hourly rate. Now do the same calculation by with the hourly rate of the other meeting attendees. More than likely, you’ll be amazed by the hidden cost in your meetings.


How to avoid unproductive meetings

When it comes to meeting management and how to avoid unproductive meetings, companies spend thousands of dollars each year on courses and internal communication campaigns for running good meetings and avoid meetingtitis. But in real life these basic and widely understood guidelines for effective meetings are probably the least followed procedures in corporate history. Sad but true.

Managers tend to quickly forget the 10 basic rules for avoiding unsuccessful meetings:

  1. Have a clear meeting objective
  2. Invite the right people
  3. Make the appointment for 30min or less
  4. Meet during the morning instead of the afternoon
  5. Send out the presentation in advance for review
  6. Have a clear and short agenda
  7. Respect the timing
  8. Minimise distractions (phones, email & calendar alerts)
  9. Go straight to the point
  10. Send out the minutes with key decisions and next steps


Phone, sweet phone

So what about conference calls and online meetings? They are quite popular and the ideal option for business teams that work remotely. They require some extra details besides the above 10 rules which need to be taken into account if you don't want to be facing funny moments like the ones from the video below. But before you go and live to YouTube to view it, check the basic steps for a good conference call:

  1. Have a good internet connection
  2. Check the access number and connect 5min earlier
  3. Don't put yourself on mute
  4. Create very visual and short slides
  5. Don't interrupt. Use the “raise your hand tool” if you want to participate.


Hope the tips shared today will help you on how to avoid unsuccessful meetings, and enjoy the video! I´m sure you will laugh and find it funny how similar it is to real life conference calls:

Source: The Insider´s guide to better meetings from GoToMeeting

By Nathaly Hermida

Follow me on Twitter @NathalyHermida

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