Meetings are an essential part of any business operation. Regular interactions with co-workers promote a good working relationship and facilitates an alignment of goals across various departments.
However, meetings that are not conducted properly can be a waste of time or drain company finances. In the US alone, unnecessary meetings are said to cost as much as $37 billion in wasted employee salaries.
In the software development industry, meetings are an integral part of our day-to-day operations. Companies that are outsourcing software development rely on meetings to ensure regular contact with their providers and see to it that everyone is aligned with their objectives.
Time is a valuable commodity because clients are typically billed on an hourly basis. This means that if too much time is spent on unnecessary meetings, then the less of it is allotted to actual software development. Meetings must be kept short in order to optimise productivity and maximise available resources.
Do you conduct ineffective meetings? Ask your team about it. Here are seven talking points to get you started.
1. Your meetings are too long
Meetings that take forever to finish can get so boring that attendees lose interest and even doze off, making discussions useless.
Studies claim that the optimal length of time for a regular meeting should be between 15 to 20 minutes because people’s attention spans are at their peak within the 10 to 18-minute mark. Anything more than that and they start to tune out or do something else.
A simple solution to this problem is to keep track of the amount of time you spend on your next meetings and adjust as needed.
2. Off topic discussions happen too often
Veering off topic is a common occurrence during meetings; it’s an acceptable practice if it happens occasionally. However, it becomes a major issue when it takes place too often. Too many interruptions can lead to loss of productivity and unresolved issues, especially when you jump from one topic to another.
To avoid this, set a clear agenda from the outset, and stick to your outline. Keeping track of the amount of time allotted for each agenda will help you stay in control so that the meeting doesn’t snowball into a discussion of issues that ends without a resolution in sight.
3. Attendees are multi-tasking
Some people think that multi-tasking during meetings can be a good thing, especially if what you’re doing are work-related tasks like checking emails or replying to client messages. Some think that sneaking a quick peek at Facebook won’t affect the meeting flow. While these things might seem harmless, little things like these can take your attention away from important discussions taking place.
To avoid these small interruptions, make it a policy to ban attendees from bringing their mobile devices for the duration of the meeting. Let the team leader implement a strict rule on multi-tasking for best results.
4. Meetings don’t start on time
It can be hard to start meetings on time, especially when it’s being conducted in a virtual space where everyone is not physically gathered in one place. Most delays are caused by technology-related issues or logistical challenges. Others are caused by tardiness.
Regardless, the best solution is adequate preparation. Check all of your equipment before the meeting and remind everyone to arrive on time.
5. No one wants to talk, or everyone wants to talk
You’ve probably attended a brainstorming session where nobody wanted to share their ideas even though talking is the main point of holding a meeting in the first place. Jumpstart the discussion by opening the session by presenting existing facts or data about the topic. You can also ask participants to come up with ideas prior to the meeting so that they arrive prepared.
On the other hand, if your problem is that everyone tends to talk at the same time, solve it by assigning each person to a specific topic during the meeting. Establish a culture of letting others finish or taking turns instead of interrupting.
6. People don’t like to attend or arrive late
Before putting the blame on the team members or dismissing this as a disciplinary issue, recall the last few meetings you’ve conducted. Do they lose interest during discussions? Do they consistently arrive late or ask you to just email them it? Perhaps you’ve established a reputation for conducting ineffective meetings, and they think it will just be a waste of time.
You’ll have to break this reputation by establishing strict parameters on what topics are meeting-worthy. After you’ve set these guidelines, follow it so that you’re sending a message that you only call for meetings when it’s necessary and that you value everyone’s time.
7. No decisions are made
You know you’re guilty of stonewalling during meetings when your team asks to reset another meeting to finalize details, especially after spending so much time debating, brainstorming and discussing the same topic for hours.
This typically happens when you fail to come up with a concrete decision in the end. This could also be a result of not establishing a clear meeting agenda at the start. To avoid this, make sure that you steer the discussion effectively by leading the team and holding them accountable to produce the expected output during the meeting.
Is your team guilty of any of these signs? Improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your meetings by downloading our Rulebook for Productive Remote Meetings.