Hints & Tips Blog

Making Your (Zoom) Meetings Productive

Meetings can be the bane of business, as people are required to devote a sizeable amount of their day to them. Are these meetings really necessary? Do they deliver any tangible results and, if so, do those results justify the amount of time spent in achieving them?

We should really be asking ourselves not only whether we should be having a meeting, but whether meetings are useful at all. The more advanced and efficient our technology becomes, and the more widespread our ability to work anywhere and at any time, the less necessary it becomes for people to meet in person. This has been proven by the increasing efficacy of video conferencing, which recently has had to replace the physical context.

Some pre-pandemic researchers related that 77% of surveyed employees already claimed to be spending at least a quarter of their time in meetings. 42% claimed that meetings took up half or more of their working day. Those numbers have increased enormously during the pandemic, and many people are also dissatisfied with the additional time and trouble required for video conferencing.

The “good meeting”
However, as business consultants, we would argue that the issue is not the medium via which it takes place, but the way the meeting itself is run. Video conferencing doesn’t automatically make a meeting more concise, focused or outcome-driven, which are the three main criteria that distinguish a productive meeting. If you can manage your meetings so that these are delivered, then the meeting will be productive whether you hold it in a conference room or your kitchen.

How to achieve these criteria is also not as important as determining whether a meeting is the best way to accomplish your desired results. A good equation to assess this involves computing how many working hours will be spent in total by all the participants. A meeting that takes two hours is not only two of your own valuable hours, but two of everyone else’s. It defers more important tasks in your schedule, but could also amount to the loss of a whole day’s business productivity if four or more people are involved.

What use are meetings?
Meetings themselves are not usually the issue so much as “bad meetings”, which eat into motivation and productivity and deliver no perceptible results. It’s only really worth having a meeting when collaboration is genuinely demanded. Interactive innovation or problem solving, for example, are more useful when management and project teams can brainstorm, although you still have to have structure and focus to make a meeting worthwhile.

Making a meeting productive
A meeting will be most productive when everyone is prepared, particularly for video conferencing. Agenda and objectives should be circulated in advance, and input strictly limited to useful and pertinent contributions. Start and end times should be rigidly adhered to and discipline observed in regard to the agenda and timetable. Required outcomes should be clearly stated at the outset, and all participants must ensure that the meeting stays on track.


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