Imagine you’re at work and you get an invite to a meeting about a new project. It’s not immediately clear what you’re expected to contribute, but without thinking much about it, you accept. You go to the meeting and add an occasional comment, then dutifully log the time in your Jira time tracking software. You don’t follow up or get any action items. You get back to your usual work and promptly forget about the meeting.
How often does this happen? For many people, these scenarios take place more often than they’d like to admit. That’s because scheduling a meeting has become the default response to our problems at work, whether we’re struggling to move forward on an overdue project or looking to share new ideas with colleagues. The fact is that many meetings are not actually necessary.
The price to pay for this trend is high. Schedules overburdened with meetings interrupt the process of “deep work”—a term used to describe focusing without distractions on a particular cognitively demanding task. If your Jira time tracking software shows one meeting after another after another, with several short breaks in between, then your ability to prioritize focused work is considerably compromised over the course of the day.
Check out some of these interesting stats about meetings:
- Executives spend approximately 23 hours per week in meetings, an increase from under 10 hours a week in the 1960s.
- 73% of attendees admit to working on other tasks in the middle of meetings.
- 25% of the time in meetings is spent on irrelevant topics.
- See more stats in this infographic on the economic impact of bad meetings
How can you make sure your company has a reasonable number of productive meetings that genuinely add value? Here are some tips for holding better meetings:
Have an objective and state it
There are many different kinds of meetings, from semi-annual post-mortems to weekly status updates. Ask yourself, what do you hope to achieve by calling a particular meeting? What tangible results do you hope will follow? Define the purpose of each meeting you plan and determine exactly what you want the results to be. Your plan may be ambitious: perhaps you want to resolve communication silos across the company by putting in place a new workflow for an upcoming project. Or it may be more straightforward: you may want to update your boss on the status of a months-long project. Whatever it is, have a vision of what you want the result of the meeting to be and communicate it to whoever you invite.
Share a clear agenda in advance
In some meetings, participants are not prepared and people go off-topic. These problems often result from poor agenda design. By developing an effective agenda, you clarify what needs to happen before and during the meeting. Ask participants to suggest agenda items with a reason explaining why they need to be on the list. Choose topics and list them as questions the team needs to answer. For instance, rather than including the agenda item “employee training”, write down “What kind of training opportunities do we want to provide employees with this quarter?”
Follow up with attendees
Meeting attendees may exit a meeting with different ideas about what needs to be done. They may also quickly forget the contents of the meeting as they get swept back up in their day-to-day tasks. Sending a memo after the meeting clarifies action items, acts as a prompt to act, and ensures that everyone is on the same page. If applicable, distribute meeting minutes as well so everyone has a record of what happened in the meeting.
Use tools during the meeting
Tools like Jira and Tempo Planner can be very useful during meetings. By planning time in Tempo and reviewing it in a meeting, you hold employees accountable and refresh everyone on their responsibilities and priorities. Reviewing Jira’s Kanban board can also be a very useful practice for weekly status meetings.