Let’s Talk Meetings

The average worker spends 15 hours in total in meetings.

  • 71% of meetings are considered unproductive.
  • 70% of employees experienced a 70% increase in meetings when remote work was introduced.

Length of meetings:

People's attention span is relatively short, and our research backs this up. According to our respondents, how long does it take for people to start losing attention in meetings?

  • Less than 10 minutes – 9%}
  • After 20-30 minutes – 43%
  • After 30-40 minutes – 30%
  • So 82% of people are checked out after 40 minutes

More than 7 in 10 respondents (75%) admit that they don't pay attention during meetings. Here's what they do instead:

  • 39% read the news on the internet. A great way to spend time. We have to do it anyway, so why not do it on the clock?
  • 38% browse social media.
  • 38% read a book
  • 35% shop online
  • 32% also start a text message conversation with a friend. Barbra, how are you? I'm stuck in a meeting.
  • 31% play an online/mobile game
  • 28% do other work-related tasks.
  • 27% draw or doodle

According to Muse, middle managers spend 35% of their time in meetings. Upper managers devote meetings 50% of their time.

The HR Digest discovered that 95% of meeting participants lose focus and miss parts of the meeting, while 39% doze off at meetings.

Using a scale of 1-5, our respondents were asked to rate how frustrating a particular scenario is. We considered frustrating (4) and really frustrating (5) activities and prepared a ranking.

Let's take a look.

  • The winner of the most annoying meeting scenario is meetings that begin later than planned – 70%.
  • The runner-up here is a lack of a clear agenda or meeting plan – 69%.
  • In third place, we have people asking excessive or unnecessary questions during meetings – 66%.
  • 66% of respondents are annoyed if the meeting is scheduled too early in the day.
  • Discussing topics that don't apply to everyone frustrates 65%.
  • 64% cannot stand going off-topic into areas unrelated to the meeting.
  • For 63% of respondents, meetings scheduled too late in the day are also annoying.
  • 62% despise meetings that end later than their scheduled finishing time.
  • The ranking closes with boring slide decks – 61%. A healthy amount of meetings:

Forbes's study shows that no more than 20% of our work week should be spent in meetings.

When should meetings be held? In the afternoon. The large majority of people are most effective in their work in the morning. This time should be reserved for you and your team to do the most challenging work and the work that really moves the needle. If we spend the morning time in meetings we are leaving the sleepiest and least productive part of our days to do the most challenging work.

How do we have the most productive meetings:

1. Update meetings are one of the biggest wastes of time in a meeting. Updates can be sent out by email and do not need to be done in a meeting setting.

2. There are 3 important parts to a meeting:

a. Prep-

i. Who needs to be in this meeting? Who does not need to be here and can be freed up to spend the time doing something else?

ii. What is the purpose of this meeting?

iii. Prepare the agenda ahead of time so that it runs smoothly. Winging it is not effective.

iv. Gather the data that you need- anyone who will be presenting needs some time to prepare. Think ahead.

v. They should be about resolution, brainstorming, collaboration

vi. Come prepared. Do you need sticking notes, markers, whiteboard…

b. Meeting itself

i. Start on time- arrive early to set up and make sure the technology is working properly or anything else you need.

ii. Use some meeting rules that apply to every meeting

iii. You stay in charge of the meeting-

1. If you have a team member who notoriously dominates the meetings you must have some tools in your leadership toolbelt to curb this. One talkative person can completely derail the meeting unless you take back control.

2. If you’re running out of time and someone is passionately sharing an idea you can create a simple, This matters to me, sheet. Jot it down, or have them jot it down, and then be sure to come back to it. Either at the next meeting having it be an agenda point or talking to them one-on-one. If you don’t write it down and/or don’t come back to it your team member feels like their ideas don’t matter.

iv. Stick to the agenda

v. End on time

c. Post meeting

i. Summarize the action items in the last 5 minutes and make sure everyone is on the same page. “Let’s review what we all agreed upon… assign who and deadlines.”

ii. Send a follow-up email within 24 hours- 2-3 hours is even better. Just clean up your notes and send them out to the team.