Some meetings at work can be a waste of time. They can not only cut into your most productive hours, but afterwards they can drain your energy and enthusiasm you initially had prior to a meeting. However, several unplanned meetings can be notoriously known as time wasters. If possible, you want to avoid them at all cost.
Time wasting impromptu meetings
When an unplanned meeting is called by a boss or even a co-worker, often you are expected to drop whatever you are doing to attend. This can sometimes interrupt your work flow and disrupt your schedule. Also, many times you are not prepared for such unplanned meeting and unless you are sent a quick email on the topic, you have no idea what the gathering is about or what, if anything, would be expected of you.
This is not to say that all unscheduled meetings are useless. Many are necessary due to their nature of importance or urgency. For example, there may be a need to call an impromptu meeting to address a crisis or an unexpected emergency situation in the department.
However, there are also impromptu meetings that can be avoided. If you are one of those that need to call such meeting, before doing so, ask yourself two questions: Do I really need an impromptu meeting? Can the information be presenting to the group by email or memo instead? If you then still find it necessary to have the meeting, consider scheduling it later in the day or even the next day. Also, send an email to all those that need to attend along with the start and end time of the meeting. Also, include a brief statement of what the meeting is about along with an agenda.
It’s always better to have some advance information about the purpose of an unexpected meeting. This gives those who are asked to attend some time to think about the topics that are going to be discussed and formulate their ideas and input for the meeting. It also gives attendees time to gather any necessary information or reports that may be helpful in providing substance to the meeting.
How to keep meetings on time and on track
All meetings should start and end on time. The times should be stated on the agenda. Also, the person calling the meeting has an obligation to ensure that the meeting ends on time. If additional time is needed, consider calling another meeting or carry over the discussion via email.
Here are other ways to keep meetings on time and on the right path:
- Don’t wait for late comers to arrive. Start the meeting without them! When you delay your meeting for late comers you are penalizing and being disrespectful to those that arrived on time. When those who come to the meeting late see that you have started without them, they will get the point and make an effort to be on time next time.
- Always have someone take minutes at meetings. If no one volunteers, draft someone to do so. Later, the minutes can be sent to all meeting participants, including those who were unable to attend.
- Have a time limit set for discussion of individual topics. The person who called the meeting is generally expected to lead the meeting. This include keeping the discussion on topic; politely cutting off those who drag a discussion to no ending; and ensuring all agenda items are discussed before the meeting time ends.
- Whenever you call meetings make sure you have something of substance to communicate. If the meeting is to be purely informational without much back and forth discussion needed, consider not having the meeting and simply put the information in the form of an email or memo.
- Because not everyone is as talkative as others during meetings, encourage those less talkative to give their views. There is a reason for them being at the meeting and their input is just as important as those who are more chatter.
- Prior to ending a meeting, summarize the salient points. Also, make sure that all participants know precisely what actions are to be taken and by whom.
Almost all of us attend meetings whether for work or leisure. Many of us find ourselves from time to time in the position of having to take charge at these meetings. Certain rules apply to all meetings, no matter what kind; when adhered to, they enable meetings to run smoothly, efficiently and on time.