The Art Of The Short Meeting
As businesses reevaluate their methods of communication and staff organization every day, it’s become popular to eliminate practices that seem redundant. If you can have one person do three people’s jobs, it’s in vogue to fire two people and keep one. This is also partially the result of the economic recession. But working harder and smarter in theory has increased pressure on employees to produce more quality work with less resources. Some companies have begun to eliminate meetings themselves, considering the practice old, stodgy, and outdated.
Meetings take up valuable staff time, and can even lead to resentment if staff members feel their time is being wasted as large demands are already being placed on them. However, there is an in-between ground, and that’s the art of the short meeting. Using technology like video conferencing to speed up the process itself and holding meetings with an unwavering and defined focus can retain the usefulness of meetings themselves while cutting out the redundancy.
- 1.Using The BYOD Model
The BYOD (bring your own device) model is the newest rage in video conferencing, with Blue Jeans video conferencing touting this as a premier service. Unlike in the olden days when you’d have an entire conference room with dedicated equipment to host video meetings, today you can join in a video conference from whichever type of mobile device you happen to own. In other words, tuning in for a short meeting is as easy as flipping open your tablet when you’re on the road, or connecting to the Internet through your smartphone. Video conferencing matches the idea of the short meeting as a business communication philosophy by being as quick and efficient as possible, putting the focus back on the conversation and removing technical hurdles.
- 2. Understanding The Metrics Of Wasted Time
An important question when you’re evaluating what the meaning of time well spent versus wasted is to your business is how to quantify it. Inc. weighs the pros and cons of a calculator developed by The Harvard Business Review which measures “time wasted” on meetings based upon quantifiable factors such as salary and number of participants, as compared with the unquantifiable human element. This is a strong reason to keep meetings, rather than eliminating them altogether. Although time, money, and staff numbers can be measured, there’s definitely a human element to the staff that can’t be quantified. Meetings provide that face-to-face interaction, and with the existence of video technology, there’s no reason that time needs to be wasted by expecting people to travel back and forth from a conference room to their office. This is especially important when you’re dealing with staff who may be more than just a walk down the hall. Utilizing video conferencing technology allows you to keep the personal element of what a meeting can provide, but eliminates the back and forth of wasted time.
- 3. Reconsidering The Organizational Meeting Structure
Meetings are often unproductive due to disorganization and mismanagement. Any meeting that you walk into that includes ten minutes of unrelated chatter before it actually starts, and isn’t even on time, is the type of meeting that should be eliminated. This doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of meetings altogether. You just need to reevaluate how they’re implemented. A major planning point that can make or break how effective your meetings are is how they’re organized. Rather than having periodic meetings for project updates, it can often be more effective to split meetings into manageable parts that address specific aspects of a project.
- 4. Defining Information By Quality Over Quantity
The entire point of a meeting is to bring everyone who’s working on a project to the table. This eliminates confusion when information is being traded between multiple parties and unites the conversation. However, this basic idea can get lost as meetings become disorganized, run over time, or are poorly managed. The beauty of video conferencing is that you’ll also have many different tools at your disposal that can make the short meeting all the more effective. By sharing visuals like spreadsheets that everyone can view at the same time, you can more quickly and clearly explain yourself as you give updates. The same goes for graphs or other types of visual information. Using visual aids substantially speeds up how quickly information can be conveyed, allowing you to share a great deal in a very short period of time.
While the age of holing up with six members of your staff in a large, stuffy conference room to brainstorm may be over, it doesn’t mean that meetings no longer hold any value. There’s a reason that business communication evolved in such a manner, even after the advent of the information age and today’s mobile technology. As long as team leaders keep focused and stick to a time limit of 15 minutes or half an hour, the short meeting can generate productivity. Working out the flaws is simply part of the process.