Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean you’re actually getting work done. The old joke, "Workin’ hard or hardly workin," has become more and more of a reality. With communication and access to information increasing exponentially, everyone struggles to get work done these days. For fast and demanding work environments such as agencies, it can be hard to tell the difference between being busy and busywork. Statistics show that despite working on average between 43 and 51 hours per week, the United States is only eighth in rankings of productive countries behind countries such as France and Norway who work significantly less hours. The fact of the matter is you waste a lot of time at work. One of the main culprits is meetings: Meetings Time is scarce when your calendar looks like a game of Tetris. At least your time is being well-spent in meetings, right? Unfortunately, many people don’t take meetings seriously. They arrive late, leave early (often for other meetings) and spend much of the meeting doing other tasks. On average: 62 meetings are attended monthly by most employees Half of all meetings are considered a waste of time This means that 31 hours are spent in unproductive meetings every month Company’s have tried everything from open and closed work environments to organizing desk space for productivity. By making work spaces an inviting and enjoyable place for people to spend 40 hours every week, the thought is that everyone will be productive. While some studies show that changing the layout of an office improves productivity, we set out to see what else we could do to improve productivity at TrendyMinds. At the end of 2014, account and executive team members attended a Smarter Faster Meetings workshop where Kevin M. Hoffman presented on ways to transform your meetings into an effective force. In 2014, we held nearly 200 internal meetings and 75 external client meetings every month. It was collectively agreed upon that most meetings had no formal agenda, intentionally selected participants or explicitly stated goals. As such, meetings were not as efficient, effective or actionable as they could have been. To remedy these shortcomings, we set out to implement a new meeting strategy to save us time and money in 2015. Roles Meeting attendees will adhere to one of the following roles and some attendees may fulfill more than one role. We've created role cards that are placed in each of our conference rooms to use in meetings. If you'd like to try our template on for size, you can download it here. Leader – The Leader organizes the meeting, selects attendees and roles, decides goals and becomes a group member during the meeting. Facilitator – The Facilitator is neutral and neither evaluates nor contributes ideas. He/she coordinates and manages the process, balances the conversation, selects questions and activities and controls the rhythm of the meeting. Group Member – The Group Member(s) contributes ideas, stays positive, is not defensive and serves as a system of checks and balances as needed. Recorder – The Recorder prepares visuals in advance, writes and documents publicly, summarizes and synthesizes, creates group memory, is silent and follows up with participants following the meeting. Agenda The meeting Leader or Facilitator should create and attach a meeting agenda to the email invitation for all attendees. Agendas should be straightforward and supplement the overall meeting goal(s). Participants often spend more time digressing in meetings than discussing. It’s hard to stick to an agenda when it doesn’t exist. Intel is enthusiastic about agendas and has taken them very seriously by developing an agenda template for everyone in the company to use. These agendas circulate ahead of time, list key topics, establish who will lead the discussions, determine how long each segment will take and what the expected outcomes are. Of course, even the most efficient agendas can’t guard against digressions, distractions and other quirks of human interaction. The challenge is to keep meetings as focused as possible without stifling creativity or insulting participants who stray. Electronics Studies have shown that the average person can pay attention in a meeting for approximately 20 minutes before becoming fidgety, daydreaming or working on other projects. Our meetings limit the use of electronics including laptops and mobile devices that can be distracting for all participants. Laptops are used for note-taking only, but we encourage employees to use notebooks and other methods to take notes. While it may not be appropriate to ask your clients to follow suit with electronic devices, you can lead by example by giving your full, undivided attention when you’re in a meeting. Having effective meetings is like any other part of business life–you get better if you commit to it and set your expectations high. Good meetings aren’t just about work. They should also be fun and keep people excited. They are about collaboration, creativity and productivity. As we continue to roll out our 2015 meeting strategy, we would like to hear from you! What are your thoughts on time spent in meetings? Do you agree with our new meeting strategy or have other suggestions for us to consider? [Related reads: 3 Ways Internal Communications Can Impact Your Organization]

Agency Life

3 Ways We Are Having Faster, Smarter Meetings in 2015

Blog Author

Kristina Bender
March 10, 2015

Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean you’re actually getting work done. The old joke, "Workin’ hard or hardly workin," has become more and more of a reality. With communication and access to information increasing exponentially, everyone struggles to get work done these days. For fast and demanding work environments such as agencies, it can be hard to tell the difference between being busy and busywork.

Statistics show that despite working on average between 43 and 51 hours per week, the United States is only eighth in rankings of productive countries behind countries such as France and Norway who work significantly less hours. The fact of the matter is you waste a lot of time at work. One of the main culprits is meetings:

Meetings
Time is scarce when your calendar looks like a game of Tetris. At least your time is being well-spent in meetings, right? Unfortunately, many people don’t take meetings seriously. They arrive late, leave early (often for other meetings) and spend much of the meeting doing other tasks. On average:

  • 62 meetings are attended monthly by most employees
  • Half of all meetings are considered a waste of time
  • This means that 31 hours are spent in unproductive meetings every month

Company’s have tried everything from open and closed work environments to organizing desk space for productivity. By making work spaces an inviting and enjoyable place for people to spend 40 hours every week, the thought is that everyone will be productive. While some studies show that changing the layout of an office improves productivity, we set out to see what else we could do to improve productivity at TrendyMinds.

At the end of 2014, account and executive team members attended a Smarter Faster Meetings workshop where Kevin M. Hoffman presented on ways to transform your meetings into an effective force.

In 2014, we held nearly 200 internal meetings and 75 external client meetings every month. It was collectively agreed upon that most meetings had no formal agenda, intentionally selected participants or explicitly stated goals. As such, meetings were not as efficient, effective or actionable as they could have been. To remedy these shortcomings, we set out to implement a new meeting strategy to save us time and money in 2015.

  • Roles
    Meeting attendees will adhere to one of the following roles and some attendees may fulfill more than one role. We've created role cards that are placed in each of our conference rooms to use in meetings. If you'd like to try our template on for size, you can download it here.
  • Leader – The Leader organizes the meeting, selects attendees and roles, decides goals and becomes a group member during the meeting.
  • Facilitator – The Facilitator is neutral and neither evaluates nor contributes ideas. He/she coordinates and manages the process, balances the conversation, selects questions and activities and controls the rhythm of the meeting.
  • Group Member – The Group Member(s) contributes ideas, stays positive, is not defensive and serves as a system of checks and balances as needed.
  • Recorder – The Recorder prepares visuals in advance, writes and documents publicly, summarizes and synthesizes, creates group memory, is silent and follows up with participants following the meeting.
  • Agenda
    The meeting Leader or Facilitator should create and attach a meeting agenda to the email invitation for all attendees. Agendas should be straightforward and supplement the overall meeting goal(s). Participants often spend more time digressing in meetings than discussing. It’s hard to stick to an agenda when it doesn’t exist.

Intel is enthusiastic about agendas and has taken them very seriously by developing an agenda template for everyone in the company to use. These agendas circulate ahead of time, list key topics, establish who will lead the discussions, determine how long each segment will take and what the expected outcomes are.

Of course, even the most efficient agendas can’t guard against digressions, distractions and other quirks of human interaction. The challenge is to keep meetings as focused as possible without stifling creativity or insulting participants who stray.

  • Electronics
    Studies have shown that the average person can pay attention in a meeting for approximately 20 minutes before becoming fidgety, daydreaming or working on other projects.

Our meetings limit the use of electronics including laptops and mobile devices that can be distracting for all participants. Laptops are used for note-taking only, but we encourage employees to use notebooks and other methods to take notes. While it may not be appropriate to ask your clients to follow suit with electronic devices, you can lead by example by giving your full, undivided attention when you’re in a meeting.

Having effective meetings is like any other part of business life–you get better if you commit to it and set your expectations high. Good meetings aren’t just about work. They should also be fun and keep people excited. They are about collaboration, creativity and productivity.

As we continue to roll out our 2015 meeting strategy, we would like to hear from you! What are your thoughts on time spent in meetings? Do you agree with our new meeting strategy or have other suggestions for us to consider?

[Related reads: 3 Ways Internal Communications Can Impact Your Organization]