How often have you said to someone, “Sorry I didn’t get back to you – I was in a meeting”?
We spend 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings, with half of those considered “a waste of time”. Today I’m looking at seven ways your digital agency team can spend less time in meetings, and more time on deliverable work.
1) Inventory Your Meetings
Take a look at your calendar for the next couple of weeks. Make a list of each meeting in your diary, and then categorise each one. For example: planning meetings, project updates, customer meetings, or recurring team meetings.
Now you’ve identified what type of meeting you’re spending your time in, work out the purpose of each one. This will help you identify non-essential meetings, and help you begin reducing the number of meetings in your diary.
2) Make Sure Meetings Have a Defined Outcome
If a meeting has no clear purpose this is a great indication that it’s non-essential, and an easy way to cut down on the number of meetings eating into your agency’s billable time.
Some meetings add real value and have clear goals: for example, client or project planning meetings. But chances are, a fair number of your agency meetings are ‘habit meetings’ – like regular team meetings every week or month, with no real purpose other than catching up.
3) Use Tools to Replace Meetings
Adopting new tools allows you to put processes in place for things which would normally require a meeting, such as using Trello or Scale to assign people to projects, Slack to replace ad-hoc discussions about your clients, and Zapier to tie them all together.
As an example, regular team meetings are a useful but time-consuming way to keep everyone updated with the progress of key projects and client work. Cutting down on these meetings can result in reduced visibility of the work being done, and difficulties in seeing and sticking toagency deadlines.
But integrating Resource and Project Management tools into your workday can help you and your team maintain visibility into project progress and upcoming tasks without the need for regular catch-up meetings.
4) Create a Customer Onboarding Process
Many client meetings can be avoided by properly setting expectations at the start of your working relationship. A customer onboarding process will allow you to show them how to use key bits of software, answer questions, and set rules for communication with your agency before you start working on projects with them.
For example, you may give your client access to a Trello board relating to their project, so if they have additional requirements or problems they can add cards to the board, bringing them to your attention and allowing you to prioritise where appropriate, without the need for a long meeting to discuss.
5) Schedule Shorter Meetings
Meetings expand to last as long as we allow them, so you may find that a 30 or 45-minute meeting will be more productive than a one hour one, as the shorter timeframe will help keep attendees focused on the meeting’s agenda and desired outcomes.
You could incorporate Daily Stand-ups into your team’s day – short 15-minute meetings to identify key problems at the start of each day. This will reduce the need for lengthy troubleshooting meetings when unforeseen problems arise. Allowing only 15 minutes for the meeting will help prioritise major concerns and keep your discussions concise and focused.
6) Invite Fewer People
Ask yourself: do all of the people on the meeting invite list really need to attend, or could some of them just receive a brief summary afterwards?
Large meetings are typically less productive, with more opinions to take into account which can delay decision-making.Inviting fewer people to your meeting can have a double benefit of returning some staff to productive, billable work, and improving the group’s decision-making capacities.
7) Set an Agenda – and Stick to it
When you do have a meeting, you want to ensure it is as productive as possible. The best way to improve meeting productivity is to set an agenda and circulate it ahead of time.
Allocate specific tasks or topics to each attendee, so that everyone is clear of what is required from them.This ensures that all attendees are aware of the necessary outcomes from the meeting.
During the meeting, time capping will help to keep the discussion on track. By outlining how long you will spend on each topic of discussion, you’ll make sure that every item in your agenda gets covered, reducing the need for follow-up meetings to go over what you didn’t get a chance to cover in the initial meeting. Set a timer to alert you to when you need to move on to the next item on the agenda.
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