6 Radical Ideas for Making Meetings More Productive!

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Are you already dreading all the meetings that you are going to have to attend this week? Is the back of your notepad already filled with umpteen number of doodles of your boss, that you drew while you were trying not to doze off in those meetings?

How many times have you wanted to meet your manager to discuss that critical point in your project, only to find him behind closed doors, always busy in a meeting?

Look at this infographic from atlassian.com – It tells you percentage wise what people do when they are attending meetings – Check this out!

The average meeting goer…

Meeting Time Wasters

$37 billion in salary costs is associated with unnecessary meetings. That is a pretty big number.

Renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said, “Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.”

I have personally been a part of several such meetings where mostly we deliberated upon the font size and font type of our new marketing brochures, corrected a few grammatical errors (which I love, by the way), or discussed extremely impossible sales targets to half-convince ourselves that we, as a firm, were on the right track.

So, how can we get rid of this time-waster?

Well, first of all, let’s agree that a few of those meetings are actually productive. We can’t just get rid of all of them.

But, here are some radical measures that can be taken to make sure ‘Death by Meetings’ don’t happen:

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1.) Allot the meeting room only for a specific period of time

Have everyone be in the meeting room at the specified minute. Then shut the doors. Have someone knock on the door after the allotted time is up.

2.) Don’t let the slacker in

Make sure you’ve mailed the meeting agenda to everyone beforehand. Stand at the entrance 5 minutes before the meeting. Ask everybody entering a question or two related to the agenda before they enter. If they can’t answer it, don’t let them in. Also, assign them the task of knocking at the door when the allotted meeting room time finishes off.

3.) Get rid of all chairs from the meeting room

Yes. Make sure everyone is standing. Anyways, they have been sitting all day staring at a computer. A rush of blood to the toenails will do them no harm. Also, people won’t veer off from the point of discussion if their legs are killing them. This single hack should curtail an otherwise hour-long meeting into a 15-minute meeting.

4.) Throw away the Snacks/Coffee/Tea (Or maybe, don’t order them in)

You think all of the attendees are ‘getting your point’. In reality, they are nodding their heads only because they are experiencing the sweet pleasure of dipping their biscuits in the ‘chai’.

This kind of meeting could go for a while and no one would be fidgety. Wait. Why are these people not interested any more, you say? Oh! The cups are empty.

5.) No Laptops, No smartphones inside the meeting room

Except that of the presenter and one other guy who’s noting down the minutes of the meeting. Don’t give them a chance to browse goal.com or espncricinfo.com, if you want to have their fullest attention. And, while you’re at it, make sure yours is on the ‘silent’ mode too.

6.) Not a radical idea – Keep your deck short

If you can’t explain your point in 20 slides, you won’t be able to do it in a 100. So, keep the deck short. Be ‘content wise’.

Can you come with some radical ones on your own? What is something you’ve done to make meetings more productive?

Feel free to comment with ideas that have had fantastic results.

  1. Christopher says

    I would like to add the following:

    Apart from items to be discussed, the meeting agenda that is circulated beforehand must include actionable-outputs required from the meeting

    eg: come up the ideas to increase revenue/customer; find out the 20% issues causing late deliveries etc

  2. Altaf Rahman says

    Also if you feel that ppl are pre-occupied and are not concentrating on what you are saying, stop abruptly from what you are saying and ask one of the guys “What did I just said?”. Its a killer. The question is nothing but indirectly telling them that “I have a doubt that you are not listening to me. If you are, I challenge you to tell me what I just said”. It sends a message that you can get nasty if required. See the reaction from the rest of them from then on.
    Just joking. Dont try it. Its too rude. (Once I did. At that time I know, I can afford to offend them and get away with it)
    Seriously, meetings are a waste of time, well most of the time. It is only a stage for stupid guys to ask stupid questions to the presenter (never mind if they are irritating the presenter and diverting his focus on the subject) just to get the attention of the bosses.
    How about arranging Cheer leaders for entertainment and Siddhu to praise your point in the superlative?

    Just my two paisa :)

  3. Abhash Kumar says

    Thanks Mohul. Boring meetings are a menace to our society. :P
    The book is “Read this before our next meeting”. Ordering it now. :)

  4. Mohul Ghosh says

    ha ha.. nice one Abhash! I have myself experienced such boring meetings which are nothing but wastage of time and energy.. I guess there is a famous book called, Read this before we meet, which is simply amazing. Enjoyed this one! My take: Meetings are wastage of time. Its a form of excuse to deviate from the real problem.. The best part about meeting is that, in case a project fails, there is someone to blame!

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