“I hold this as a rule of life: too much of anything is bad.” Terrence McKenna was definitely NOT referring to meetings when he made this statement. Regardless, it sums up exactly how I feel about meetings.
I have earned a reputation for being a meeting dodger, it’s because I tend to over correct. After one or two useless meetings, I find myself avoiding them at all cost. Pretty soon my phone is ringing off the hook, people are waiting for me in the hallways and outside the bathroom, but that isn’t the worst of it. If you miss enough meetings, people will start to wonder who you are and what you do. Some meetings really are necessary, unless you work alone (which I wouldn’t recommend, because you’ll have no one to blame when something goes wrong).
For the record, I’m not alone in my meeting disdain. A recent workplace survey conducted by Post-it® Brand found that “on average, U.S. office workers feel they attend 3 unnecessary work meetings per week – and nearly 1 in 4 (24%) attend 5 or more, which is one a day.” Fortunately, not everyone shares my all or nothing approach. There is sunlight at the end of the tunnel and maybe even in the conference room.
There are ways to make meetings a lot more productive and slightly less painful. Preparation is key, but there are also some steps you can take during and after to maximize meeting effectiveness.
Get It Together
More is not always merrier. Of the 1,000 surveyed in the Post-it® Brand Workplace Survey, 59% feel that smaller groups are better for collaboration and creativity. How many is too many? On average, employees feel that productivity declines in meetings with more than 11 participants. Remember, you can get someone’s perspective prior to the meeting and you can send out notes after the meeting. Don’t invite everyone.
- Don’t be so sure. Check meeting responses and cancel or reschedule as needed. I have actually driven 4 hours to attend a meeting that only one other person showed up for, and yes, I am a little bitter. If you sent out the meeting invite, you are the organizer, if things change, make sure everyone knows.
- Stock up. Make sure the meeting room has an adequate number of chairs, extra pens, highlighters, Post-it® Notes and Flags, plus any other supplies specific to your organization or team. Unprepared will get you noticed, but not in a good way. 70% of executives report frequent meeting interruptions due to missing supplies
- Heads up. Send out meeting objectives in advance to ensure that participants come to the meeting prepared. If you are a meeting participant, PLEASE familiarize yourself with the subject matter. If reports or other information is necessary, bring it with you. When I’m invited to a meeting, I put a Post-it® Note on a Project Envelope, then add any relevant paperwork to the envelope.
- Prepare to be carded. I realize that in this digital world business cards are not always necessary, but for visual learners, like myself, they help. By seeing the name and spelling on a card, I can be sure I’ve entered it into my meeting notes correctly. You may be very memorable, but 56% of employees have forgotten a name heard in a meeting. Pass out cards or write attendee names and titles on a white board.
Keep It Going
- Take charge. The meeting leader should start the meeting and keep the meeting on track. 63% of employees feel that leaders frequently lose control of meetings. Remind everyone of the objectives and if possible post them in a visible location. 51% of employees admit they’ve forgotten the purpose of a meeting while in it.
- They’re watching you. If youth is on your side, you may not feel compelled to take notes, after all your memory still works, but you should take them anyway. At work, you will be watched. 79% feel that someone isn’t fully paying attention unless they are taking notes.
Side note for the execs. Your employees want to take notes, but need help. 80% want training on how to take better notes.
End On A Good Note
- Keep your notes. Some people use the same notebook, so they can refer back to notes by date. Other people type up their notes after the meeting and discard the hand-written copy.
- Share your notes. If you are the meeting organizer, make sure someone is taking notes that can be distributed later via email.
Last, But Not Least
Follow the rules of etiquette. Don’t interrupt, be unkind or talk over people, it’s annoying. While it may get you noticed, it won’t help you get promoted.
To celebrate productivity in the workplace Post-it® Brand has also launched a digital series in partnership with Fast Company, Beside Great Leaders, featuring prominent business executives and the office professionals who keep their workplaces running smoothly. You can watch the video here.
Be sure to check out the infographic from the Post-it® Brand Workplace survey below!
*The Post-it® Brand Workplace survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,000 U.S. office professionals, office administrators and office managers employed full-time in 2016 using an email invitation and an online survey.