Did you know a Microsoft study found that, on average, people spend 5.6 hours a week in meetings (or up to 16.8 hours for managers) and 69% felt that time is unproductive?


Don’t be a constructor of those meetings.

Here are five reasons that percentage is so high and what you can do to lower it down.

1. BAD TIMING

Whether it’s starting the meeting late or ending it later than planned, it’s a good recipe for a disaster.

Late meetings train people to arrive late. When they expect it’s going to start five to ten minutes later, they won’t bother to come on time, or at all. So you’ll end up with a bunch of people yawning waiting for it to be over.

What you can do to avoid meetings starting late is to make sure people are not scheduling back-to-back meetings so they can arrive on time.

A good tip is to always end the meeting five minutes early.

2. TOO MANY POWERPOINT SLIDES

You need to be the center of attention, not the screen behind you. Making real contact and having people participate in the meeting or a presentation is going to make them very attentive.

It’s a good idea to write the most important thoughts on your whiteboard, but make sure it’s next to you, not in front or behind you.

3. WRONG PEOPLE IN THE MEETING

When you’re not sure whether to invite some people to a meeting – just don’t.

It is going to be a waste of time, yours and theirs too. They will feel pressured to sit there or ask some questions and give comments that won’t be useful.

For the meeting to be efficient call only people who can contribute and who are important for the issue of the meeting.

4. ALLOWING INTERRUPTION

In almost every meeting or presentation there are going to be those who will not agree with you or even protest you loudly.

Here’s how you can handle those people.

First, you can set a specific time frame just for their questions and comments. That way you will not get interrupted, and you can take a breath and prepare.

Another essential thing to do is separate a specific space for that and guard it.

Choose a place, where you’ll stand, or a specific body position if you’re sitting when you’re answering complaints, bad comments or resolving conflicts. And only do that there.

This way you are guarding your position as a speaker letting people know not to mess with you.

5. GOING OFF TRACK

When there are a lot of participants in a meeting it may be difficult to stick to the point.

You can be in the middle of explaining the idea when someone interrupts you with another topic. Trying to be polite – you answer, others get involved in the conversation.

This leads to a lot of wasted time.

Instead, here’s how you can directly and politely answer these comments, making sure you are on the right track.

One simple sentence like:

“Thank you for your comment/question. It’s very interesting and important for the company. Now we are addressing a different topic, but will be back to your issue with enough time”.

Remember to be in the right place when you do this and to always return to the original position before you continue your presentation.

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Mark C. Williams
[email protected]pace.com