Stop wasting time and money on meetings

03 June 2017 - 22:30 By Margaret Harris
Image: Gallo Images/ Thinkstock

Data from StatsSA shows that South Africans spend about two hours a day in meetings. This would be impressive if those 120-odd minutes were productive, but too much of that time is wasted.

Daniel Marcus, the CEO of Magnetic Software, which provides a process management tool for small businesses, says owners and managers can make meetings more productive. "Meetings have become prevalent fixtures in today's organisational culture, particularly within client service and project-driven business models. However, when teams are calling meetings to prep and plan for future meetings, something needs to give."

He has the following advice:

• Every meeting must have an agenda, which must be stuck to. "The agenda should be sent out ... before the meeting ... and contain a finite number of items to be discussed and resolved," says Marcus;

• "Parkinson's Law ... suggests that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. This means that if a full hour has been allotted to a meeting, it is likely to take up the full hour," says Marcus. One way to avoid this is to work out the time you need and then cut five to 10 minutes. "During the meeting ... display a timer for everyone to see to ensure agenda points are kept on track and within their allotted times.";

• Do not invite everyone to every meeting. "The inclusion of unnecessary ... attendees can prove to be a greater distraction to those who really need to be there," says Marcus; and

• Implement a work-flow management system so that "every project can be efficiently monitored, managed and delivered, eliminating the need for constant status meetings".