Wasted time that could be more productively spent is a drag on any business, but especially so on a small business where every hour spent actively growing and establishing the business is important. While it is certainly helpful to meet with the members of your team from time to time, you can avoid wasting time in meetings by keeping a few key meeting minders front and center.
Make Sure a Meeting is Necessary
Avoid wasting time in business meetings by cutting back on the amount of meetings that take place. Make sure that having a meeting is even necessary. Often, the objective of a meeting can be accomplished in less time-consuming ways, such as a conference call or just a few emails back and forth between key team members. Avoid holding a meeting that is nothing more than a status update, which could easily be handled through email.
Have a Well-Thought-Out Meeting Plan
Time gets wasted in meetings when they’re called without any specific parameters. Think it through and plan the meeting before you ever send out invitations to the meeting attendees. Only invite personnel who are actually essential for the meeting; that way, you avoid taking any more people than necessary away from their regular work. Meetings are more efficient when they have a specific goal, such as making a decision about a proposed new marketing plan. Attendees will be better prepared if you include the specific agenda for the meeting in the invitation.
Stay on Point
Many business meetings get derailed by discussion that digresses into a topic unrelated to the purpose of the meeting. This is a common hazard, as it only takes one slightly off-point comment to veer the meeting away from its stated goal. Keep things on track by having a good meeting leader in charge of the meeting, one who can politely steer the discussion back to the matter at hand if conversation starts to go astray. Another helpful tool for staying on track is a printed agenda that is distributed to everyone at the beginning of the meeting.
Keep meetings short to keep your meetings on track. Participants are less likely to wander off topic in a meeting scheduled for 20 or 30 minutes than in a meeting scheduled for an hour – or one that has no set time limit.
Make Sure Something Gets Accomplished
Another common way that time gets wasted in business meetings is when the takeaway from the meeting somehow gets lost or is unclear. Avoid this problem by having someone specifically assigned to take notes on the discussion and the decisions made in a meeting. Individual meeting participants taking notes on their own may neglect to write down one or more important points. Communicate the meeting summary, highlighting key points and followup actions to be taken, to all participants after the meeting.