There's a reason everyone hates meetings - according to a 2012 survey, almost half of all respondents consider meetings to be the biggest source of wasted time at work - bigger, even, than time spent on personal and recreational websites. Meetings can be vital for discussing goals and establishing a forward vision. Left unchecked, however, meetings all too often become bloated affairs, eating up hours (or in extreme cases, even days ) of your time without anything important being decided. Here's a few tips to make your meetings as effective as possible:
Establish an agenda before every meeting so that the time set aside is used to its full potential. Include time frames in which certain topics of discussion should be addressed. Stick to your agenda as much as you can - if other topics arise, recommend they be discussed later via a one-on-one office discussion. Invite the smallest number of people as possible. Keeping your meetings to the bare minimum in terms of attendees reduces the chance that the conversation will veer off-topic. It also keeps everyone who doesn't need to be there at their desks, working, which is overall more productive. Keep slide presentations to a minimum. There is ample debate about whether slide presentations (PowerPoint, etc.) help or hinder the efficiency of a meeting. This much is clear: If you use slides in your presentation, keep them as concise and informative as possible. Use slides to display pictures and data that can't be conveyed through your speech, not the entire content of your presentation. And don't mess around with animations or transitions, either, as it wastes time. Finally, as an overarching principle, know what you want to decide before you start the meeting and make that decision as quickly as possible.