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How To Fix The Most Soul-Crushing Meetings

How to Fix the Most Soul-Crushing Meetings

Meetings are a necessary part of organizational life, but they can also be a source of frustration and wasted time. According to a Harvard Business Review article, employees in American companies spend more than one-third of their time in meetings, and 71% of senior managers view them as unproductive. How can you fix the most soul-crushing meetings and make them more effective and engaging?

Here are some tips to help you improve your meeting culture and outcomes:


  • Clarify the purpose and decision rights of each meeting. Too many meetings are held without a clear reason or agenda, leading to confusion and boredom. Before scheduling or attending a meeting, ask yourself: What is the goal of this meeting? Who owns it? What decisions need to be made? How will they be made? By whom? These questions will help you define the mandate and scope of each meeting, and avoid unnecessary or overlapping ones.

  • Design a synchronized meeting cadence. The frequency and duration of meetings should match their purpose and decision rights. For example, a weekly meeting for strategic alignment may need more time than a daily meeting for operational updates. A monthly meeting for innovation may need less time than a quarterly meeting for performance review. A synchronized meeting cadence will help you align your meetings with your organizational rhythm and priorities, and avoid overloading your calendar with irrelevant or redundant ones.

  • Choose the right participants. Too often, leaders invite people to meetings based on hierarchy or politics, rather than on their contribution or stake. This can result in overcrowded or unbalanced meetings, where some people dominate the discussion while others tune out or feel left out. To avoid this, only invite people who have a specific role or input in the meeting, such as providing information, giving feedback, making decisions, or taking actions. Also, make sure to communicate the expectations and responsibilities of each participant before and during the meeting.

  • Engage everyone in the meeting. A common complaint about meetings is that they are boring or passive, where people just listen to presentations or reports without much interaction or discussion. To make your meetings more dynamic and productive, use different methods and formats to engage everyone in the meeting, such as asking questions, soliciting opinions, brainstorming ideas, voting on options, assigning tasks, or playing games. These techniques will help you stimulate creativity, collaboration, and commitment among your meeting attendees.

  • Follow up after the meeting. A meeting is not over when it ends. To ensure that the meeting outcomes are implemented and sustained, you need to follow up with your meeting participants after the meeting. This includes sending a summary of the key points and decisions made in the meeting, checking on the progress and status of the actions assigned in the meeting, providing feedback and recognition to the meeting contributors, and evaluating the effectiveness and satisfaction of the meeting process and results.

By following these tips, you can fix the most soul-crushing meetings and turn them into meaningful and enjoyable ones. Remember that meetings are not an end in themselves, but a means to an end: achieving your organizational goals and vision. By making your meetings more purposeful, efficient, inclusive, engaging, and accountable, you can enhance your team's performance and morale.

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