Many of us have a love-hate relationship with meetings. Some are necessary and enable us to advance initiatives. Others allow us to expand ideas and look at projects in a new light. Others still set a framework for strategic planning. But let’s face it, a lot of the meetings we attend don’t do any of these things. In fact, they may seem like a waste of time.
So, what can you do about it?
Enter the meeting audit.
The action steps are straightforward and simple. They are not overly time-intensive, but will take concerted effort on your part of conduct a meaningful audit. The time you put in will be well spent because you will come out on the other side with more streamlined meetings, more effective meetings, and more time to work on your priorities.
Begin with an audit following each meeting. Do a quick evaluation considering things such as:
1. Did we accomplish what we set out to?
2. Were the right people at the table and were they prepared?
3. Did you follow the agenda?
4. Did the group leave with clear action items and deadlines?
Be constructively critical. Look at the areas of success and build on those. Look at the areas needing attention and set in motion a plan to fix those.
Similarly, you can look at the regularly scheduled meetings you hold and/or attend and ask questions to determine if they are ones that need to be held.
1. If a meeting doesn’t have a clear purpose, or if it’s one that falls into the category of “we’ve always had this meeting,” but no one can really say why, it’s time to consider taking that one off the schedule.
2. Determine if to meet your goal if you need to have an in-person meeting. Can the same thing be accomplished with email or a phone call?
3. If you find you’re discussing the same or similar items in different meetings, see if there’s a way to combine the meetings. The same is true with people. If it makes more sense to assemble people in different combination, do so.
4. Finally, look at the schedule of the meetings to make sure the information flow makes sense.
An important take-away is that the intent of the meeting audit is not to eliminate all meetings, just the ones that are not making the best use of your – and your team’s – time. And to restructure those that could be implemented more effectively.