Smarter Meetings: The WHY, HOW and WHAT

06/09/2015 04:42 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How many internal meetings have you participated in so far this year? Raise your hand if you think there were too few. And do you have any feeling that the ones you've been to could have been smarter meetings?

According to Bain & Company's Time Management study from 2014, 15% of an organization's collective time is spent in meetings. It is estimated that senior executives spend 50% to 75% of their time in meetings with each other.

What is holding us back from running smarter meetings?

Given the substantial, and obvious, cost of time spent on internal meetings, don't you wonder why we seldom stop and consider the effectiveness and productivity of these meetings? OK, you are not alone. We get so used to things being in a certain way, that we forget that the ones who actually hold the power to change these thing are ourselves.

2015-06-08-1433760520-6671559-WhoWhyWhat.pngYou know, our time is one of the few resources we can actually control to a certain degree. No, we cannot always control what we need to spend time on, but we can control how smart we spend this time. When it comes to smarter meetings, it is about focusing also on the HOW and WHAT, and not only the WHY.

WHY we're having a meeting is of course important, but the threshold for initiating a meeting without having considered the HOW and WHAT seems to be far too low. This results in too many and unnecessary meetings, meetings lasting too long, with the wrong participants, and meetings that do not live up to their potential.

So, how can you assure smarter meetings?

The next time you call a meeting, make sure you ask yourself all of these three questions. And not only the first one:

1. Why do we meet? Is it possible to secure forward movement and action in a more effective way than just calling a meeting?
2. What should we have accomplished by the time the meeting is over? What will be the take away from the meeting?
3. How do we proceed during the meeting? What kind of processes do we use? How do we secure progress and decisions, a high level of focus, and minimal time waste during the meeting?

Creating smarter meetings and a more effective culture for how you run meetings in your organization is essential. No matter what kind of meeting culture you already have.

If you are in a position of changing the culture in your entire organization - GREAT! But if not, you CAN make a difference for yourself and your team by making sure that the meetings you are in charge of are effective, focused and end on time!

Starting BIG or SMALL? It doesn't matter. But starting matters a lot for ending up running smarter meetings.

What's your potential for running smarter meetings? If this topic interests you feel free to dive into more suggestions for better meetings in our blog Better Meetings? Do These Few Adjustments And Get More Time!

This blog post is written by Kristine Maudal and Even Fossen, keynote speakers and founders of Brainwells. Brainwells provide ultimate tools and methods for leaders and works internationally with ambitious leaders and their teams.
We have a common passion for making the corporate world a better place, and do this by training executives and executive teams in how to become Involving Leaders. Daily we experience magic moments when people exceed their own expectations due to new insights and skills. With love and care we'll share this magic with you. You can find more blog posts in the blog LeadershipCourageFun. Thank you for being here.

All photos © Brainwells