Forget about AIG. Meetings have a reputation problem far removed from allegations of corporate excess. Surveys consistently show that employees feel a large amount of time spent in meetings is wasted.
According to one recent survey, which polled 150 senior executives at some of the largest companies in the United States, respondents believe that, on average, 28 percent of meetings are unnecessary. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they would be somewhat or much more productive if their companies banned meetings one day a week; another 46 percent said there would be no change in productivity.
Granted, this study, released in May by OfficeTeam, an administrative staffing company headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., was concerned with internal staff meetings, but the implications are relevant to planners of any kind of meeting. Among the lessons drawn by OfficeTeam:
• Meetings need to be concise and focused. Unwieldy agendas are perhaps an indication that separate, more targeted gatherings should be organized. Meeting content needs to be tailored to the audience.
• Meetings are effective forums for discussions, question-and-answer sessions or summaries of key points. But in-depth information often is best shared in writing, not PowerPoint presentations. Details don't always need to be examined by everyone at once in the meeting room. If documents can be distributed to the right hands in advance, meetings can be more productive.
• Planners should be skeptical of habit. Do meetings need to be held so frequently, simply because they always have been?