A Publication of WTVP

It’s 10:30 on a Monday morning. You’ve been sitting in a meeting for the past 90 minutes and it suddenly dawns on you. What is this meeting about? What are we trying to accomplish? Why am I here? How do I get out? Chances are, there are many others in the meeting asking themselves the very same questions. And the ones who aren’t are probably either asleep or thinking about where they’re going for lunch.

Welcome to Meeting Hell.

According to a study by the Wharton Center for Applied Research, the average CEO spends about 17 hours a week in meetings. Senior executives wallow in about 23 hours of meetings every week, and middle managers about 11 hours. The same study reports senior and middle managers believe only 56 percent of meetings they attend are productive. They also believe a phone call, e-mail or memo could easily replace more than 25 percent of meetings they attend.

Internal meetings are a type of necessary evil in the business world. Always have been, always will be. But having a meeting without an agenda or clearly defined objectives is the equivalent of throwing money out the window. So, how can you make each meeting as productive as possible? Who should attend? And how do you measure a meeting’s success? You could call a meeting and talk about it, or look at the problem logically.

The guidelines for productive meetings are nothing more than common sense rules. The problem is, most meetings follow just a few of the rules, and in no particular order. Successful and productive meetings are the direct result of several simple steps followed from start to finish.

According to the Wharton study, if people plan and conduct meetings effectively, they can gain an average of seven additional hours a week to get other work done. Multiply that by the number of people an organization has, then multiply that by 50 weeks a year. That’s at least 350 extra hours every year for every person involved.

Nobody likes to sit in meetings all day. And nobody likes all the time and money unnecessary or unplanned meetings waste. The keys to successful, efficient meetings lie in our understanding of their purpose … and our ability to prepare for and manage them. After that, the only hard part will be figuring out what we’re going to do with our extra seven hours a week. IBI