When was the last time you attended an efficient meeting? The right people were present. The topic was clear, and discussions were based on the agenda items sent to you in advance of the meeting. Action items with due dates and responsibilities were created during the meeting and then immediately distributed to the attendees. And as you left the meeting, which only lasted 30 minutes, you said to yourself, “Wow, that was a great meeting and we got so much accomplished!”

For most people, the sad truth is that this doesn’t happen very often. Meetings are called to ‘solve problems’ or ‘make decisions’ but, unfortunately, this is often the last thing they actually do. If anything, they can create more problems by delaying decisions and wasting everyone’s time. Instead of doing something worthwhile, they were sitting around a table wondering when the meeting would be over.

Remember the movie Ground Hog Day with Bill Murray when he was stuck repeating the same day over and over? In essence, that’s how corporate meetings play out in boardrooms across the country, except that no one’s learning from them and there’s no Hollywood happy ending in sight.

Top contributing factors to inefficient meetings:

So, what are the biggest contributing factors to meeting ineffectiveness? Janine Popick, author of the article “Don’t Let Meetings Suck your Time,” says there are six things that make for terrible meetings:

  1. Meetings allow people to delay decisions
  2. Most people who are in meetings don’t need to be there
  3. People call meetings because they’re afraid to make a decision
  4. Many people who call a meeting don’t have a clear agenda or objective
  5. People call 30-minute meetings for things that can be decided in five minutes
  6. Most meetings cost too much by wasting people’s time

I agree with these six factors because I’ve experienced all of them at one time or another when I worked for a large corporation. And I see it with some of my own clients.

I don’t want to suggest all meetings are bad. They just need to be re-purposed and employees taught the fundamentals of creating more effective meetings. The great news is that you can start running an effective and efficient meeting immediately.

If you’re a meeting organizer, make a pact with yourself that you’ll eliminate these six contributing factors from your meetings immediately. If you do this, someone at your next meeting might say, “Wow, that was a great meeting and we got so much accomplished!”

How do you make sure your meetings go smoothly? Share with us in the comments!