As much as you might despise meetings, they’re a necessary part of business, and one that’s not likely to go away any time soon. Still, lengthy meetings that devolve into discussions about minute details -- or even about workers’ personal lives -- are not productive. The trick to persuading your boss to shorten meetings, then, is showing him how unproductive those long meetings can really be.
Here are some steps to take to convince him, and to start spending your meeting time more productively.
See Also: How to Escape from Meetings at Work
1. Graph out your work day
It’s not enough to simply say "these meetings are a waste of company time," as that doesn’t provide the detail or the evidence that’s going to convince your boss. Instead, keep a log of how you spend your time, every day for a week. Note how much time you spend checking and managing email, the time you spend in meetings, and how much time is left for actual work that moves you and your company forward.
Next, plot your various tasks on a graph or chart -- you can find lots of free tools for this online -- to visually illustrate how you spend your time. Ask your boss for a quick sit-down one-on-one, and present your visual data. Don’t just say something like "I think we’re spending too much time on meetings." Instead, talk about how you want to make sure you’re spending your time in a way that’s more productive for the company and its clients. With that, you’re showing that you’re concerned about the company’s bottom line, and that might hit home with your boss. In fact, he may be shocked to discover how much time you’re spending in meetings.
2. Ask to be the meeting planner
The next thing the boss is going to wonder: What do we do about it? This is where you show your initiative and volunteer to help plan meetings. It might take more of your precious work time, but if you’re successful in keeping meetings shorter, the extra effort can be worth it. Let your boss know that you’d like to be able to compile an agenda for the meetings, in an effort to keep things running more smoothly. If he allows it, it’s a win-win for you and your boss. You’ll be showing your concern for the health of the business and your drive to go above and beyond, as well as getting shorter meetings. Your boss, meanwhile, has one less item on his daily to-do list.
3. Request agenda items ahead of time
A couple days ahead of every meeting, send a note to the people who will attend, asking for agenda items and informing them of the purpose of the meeting. Inform the participants that you’ll be following the agenda and sticking to this one purpose, in hopes of making meetings more efficient. Another way to make each meeting as efficient as possible: only invite people who really need to be there. The more people who attend, the greater the chance of someone going off on a tangent that wastes people’s time.
4. Keep time
Bring in a kitchen timer or some other timing device to keep each section of the agenda to a certain time. To encourage everyone to be on board with the new agenda- and time-keeping elements of the meetings, ask for a volunteer timekeeper for each meeting.
5. Review your data again
After a month or two of holding more efficient meetings, show your boss a new breakdown of how you’re spending your time, and the results of that extra time spent on real work. Maybe you’ll have brought in a new client, increased sales or done something else extremely productive with your time so that your boss is convinced that your efforts were worth it.
See Also: 7 Reasons Your Meetings are Unproductive
Meetings can drag on, even in spite of your best efforts. But with your boss on board with saving time in the boardroom, you’ll at least be making your best effort to spare everyone’s precious time.
Do you find that meetings are often unnecessarily long and unproductive in your company? Your thoughts and comments below please...