Have you come across the term ‘meetnapping’ yet? This playful contraction of ‘meeting’ and ‘kidnapping’ refers to the unmannerly habit of keeping colleagues trapped in meetings for needlessly long periods. Nevertheless, meetings are still necessary and even very useful, provided they are approached in the right way.
It is tempting to invite everyone at the same time to run through all your action points at once. It saves time, doesn’t it? Not really. Staff who have nothing to do with a particular action point can spend their time far better. So break your gatherings up into meetings with a limited number of action points and only those who are directly concerned.
Do you remember how lessons at school lasted just 45 minutes? There is a reason for that. No-one can concentrate on the lesson for hours on end. Aim for the same maximum length of 45 minutes for all meetings. Another advantage: staff who have several meetings one after another can deal with their e-mails between the meetings rather than during them.
Everyone needs to be able to manage their own time. Don’t wait for latecomers and don’t summarize for them when they eventually wander in. If you do, you and all the other participants waste time and you send out the message that coming late is acceptable. Those who arrive late will have to ask others what they missed afterwards.
Start each meeting with a clearly structured agenda. Don’t want to be interrupted? Then restrict questions to the question session. It can also be helpful to send out the agenda with the invitation. That way, participants can prepare. Close the meeting with an action plan so that everyone knows what the next steps are.
As organizer, it is your responsibility to keep an eye on the time. Allocate a certain amount of time for each item on the agenda beforehand and intervene firmly where necessary. People will thank you afterwards.
Meetings are expensive
A two-hour weekly status update with five staff members and their team leader costs € 560. That is over € 29,000 a year. A four-hour monthly management meeting with seven managers costs € 3,360, or a staggering € 40,320 a year.
The web app on meetingcalculator.com analyses the last 365 days from your Google Calendar in 10 seconds to calculate how much time you have spent in meetings, what it cost and where you stand in comparison to other companies. A fun pastime during a pointless meeting.
“No-one can pay attention to the lesson without interruption for more than 45 minutes.”
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