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7 tips on how to avoid meeting fatigue

Another crowded conference room with standing room only. You “have” to be here, but would anyone know the difference? You’re not going to talk, and no one is going to ask you to speak either. You have meeting fatigue.  

josh spilker
28th Jun 2018
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Another crowded conference room with standing room only.

You “have” to be here, but would anyone know the difference? You’re not going to talk, and no one is going to ask you to speak either.

This feels like a drag from the real work and the progress you could make on your next project. You could check off tasks. Upload files. Create something new. Anything would be more productive than this.

All of your meetings run into one another. This is meeting fatigue.

So how do you get out of this rut and create more effective meetings? In this post, you’ll get seven actionable tips to do more with your meetings, and meet less while doing it.

1. No more meetings for the sake of meetings 

Feel like you’re repeating yourself? Not a good sign. You must know why you’re having a meeting to make any meeting worth it.

Why are you having the meeting? To discuss KPIs? Product performance? A new ad campaign? An amazing new feature addition? 

Every follow-up task depends on the purpose of the meeting. If you leave a meeting with no next steps or action items, it probably wasn’t worth it.

This will keep you from attending meetings just for the sake of meeting.

2. Write down your action items

All good ideas had to start somewhere. Maybe with a brainstorming session that reigned down the fire.

Some of the most mundane household items started with a random idea in somebody's head. 

The most important thing to do is to record and save great ideas. Jot it down right away--and don't let that great idea escape!

Note taking tools like Evernote or Google Keep can help with this, but so can a notepad feature in your project management system. That way everything you need to for your meeting--from note-taking to task creation is in the same place. With a project management tool, you have a central place to keep all of your information. And if a point comes up in a meeting and you already have a task, add comments as follow-up items for members of the team who may not be there.

3. Nix the nonessential

Many of us are addicted to meetings. We think of it as a badge of honor that shows how important we are. It’s easy to fill up your day with meetings and have no time for strategy, planning or helping. It’s the classic manager-maker dilemma. Turn your focus to your top priorities. 

4. Make an agenda

Your rule of thumb should always be to have an agenda when you run a meeting. And if your organizer doesn’t have one, or is notorious for not creating one--ask for it before the meeting. That makes the organizer accountable for your time and there’s, and will force them to think about the purpose before they even get there. It will also make it faster. If you’re not sure where to start with your agenda, check out these great tips.

5. Set time allotments for each topic

What’s better than having an agenda? Knowing how long the meeting will take. If you have lots to cover, then cover it all. Don’t shove the most important stuff at the end. Plan out how much you have on each topic based on priority. This will also limit the side conversations, snarky jokes, and phone browsing.

6. Schedule shorter meetings

If you set an hour for a meeting, most people will find a way to make it an hour. Meetings rarely end before they’re supposed to unless as a leader or manager you make that clear. Shorter meetings help you focus on the topic at hand, table unnecessary side conversations that colleagues can have amongst themselves and helps to avoid meeting fatigue.

7. Record presentations

In the modern workplace, why wouldn’t you do this? You’re used to getting the presentation with notes, why not just record it and share it with your team more broadly. Loom and CloudApp are great apps for accomplishing this, and any team members who are away won’t miss the presentation and how the speaker *owns* the room.

Conclusion

Meetings can always be productive. Use the right tools and your whole team will benefit. Change the meeting culture at your organization for better productivity, giving more people the time to work. 

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