Let’s face it: not every meeting is super productive. And it’s no fun to sit through a lot of chatter and feel that you’re not getting things done.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! With a few quick tips and tricks, your business can drastically streamline meetings and make them much more dynamic.
Here are seven simple strategies I use at RingCentral that any company can adapt to power up productivity. Try them out with RingCentral Meetings – now available to all US Office Enterprise customers.
- Determine if you really need a meeting.
The number one question that you need to ask before scheduling a meeting is, do we really need one at all? This is actually a quantifiable workplace problem. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, unnecessary meetings are costing U.S. businesses as much as $37 billion each year. Evaluate if email or other means of communication can solve your problem without having to resort to a meeting.
- Set the ground rules from the start.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come to a meeting where attendees didn’t know why they were convening. When scheduling a meeting, develop a clear agenda, share background information in advance, have each person introduce his/her role, stick to the schedule and make action items clear.
- Admit you’re not good at multi-tasking.
Nothing can kill productivity and creativity more than employees trying to multi-task. Nine times out of 10, that employee with his laptop open “taking notes” is also simultaneously checking email, answering instant messages or surfing the web. Research has shown that multitasking can lower productivity as much as 40 percent and reduce your IQ 10 points – so stay focused on one thing at a time.
- Make eye contact.
Ever been in a room where everyone’s eyes are glued to their computers? Sometimes we forget how powerful face-to-face communication and body cues can be – so make an effort to maintain eye contact. This is actually a perk of videoconferencing: It’s easy to look directly at others when their faces fill your computer or smartphone screen.
- Adopt the “the vital few” rule.
Here at RingCentral, we stick to a rule we call the vital few: each meeting should cover no more than five key agenda items. Any more than that, and you need a different meeting. Staying focused is essential for leading productive meetings and wasting less time.
- Engage attendees.
Make it a point to use three or four images in the meeting to tell the story or help explain a complex problem. And shake things up by inviting guest speakers to present. It’s a great way to infuse new thinking and perspective into the group.
- Turn meetings into results.
Did someone take notes? The end of the meeting is too late to ask that question. Make sure from the outset that there is someone responsible for capturing what is discussed. At the end, make sure everyone is clear on action items, there are no outstanding questions, and that deadlines are assigned.
Following these steps, I’ve been able to increase productivity and cut back on “meeting mania.” I’d love to hear how you’re powering up your meeting productivity, too!
Originally published Jan 29, 2014, updated Aug 11, 2020