Industry News

Utilizing Shorter Meetings to Boost Productivity

If there’s one question Prezi CEO Jim Szafranski gets from a lot of his customers it’s, “can we get meetings both shorter and more engaging?” and since the pandemic with more and more workers suffering from zoom fatigue, Szafranski said that clients are asking for advice on reducing meetings to as short a 15 minutes “What they’re looking to do is … increase the connectivity between employees, get better productivity out of those meetings, and try to reduce these burnout issues that are.” To combat this, Szrafranski suggests holding portions of a meeting in advance, at a time to suit each participant, so when the live gathering happens it’s more efficient. A way to accomplish this, for example, is to have the person leading the meeting record a short video to explain the point of it and the decisions that need to get made. This gets the host to focus, Szafranski said: “If you’re going to send something ahead of time about the meeting, you better have thought about it. ”Starting this month, Prezi will stop holding meetings on Wednesdays to allow for their employees to have uninterrupted “flow time”. This allows for people to work harder on the first two days of the week, refocus their energy midweek and then resume work for the rest of the week. 

Martin Smith, CEO of tech PR firm Sonus, has taken a different approach to make meetings more efficient. The company has replaced their all-hands meeting with 15-minute meetings among teams for them to meet about their particular clients. This has helped curb employees sitting through parts of meetings that had no weight on their current projects and also helped Smith streamline his own schedule. 

Zapier, a software company, has been completely remote since its inception in 2011. They currently have a workforce of around 500 people across 38 countries. Previously, Zapier would have zoom meetings where employees would share what they had done the previous day, what they were going to be working on that day, and any issues they may currently be experiencing. However, they found that some of their meetings ended up getting sidetracked into detailed engineering speak between participants that may be irrelevant for others. This led to them discontinuing the meetings in favor of text communication guided by a bot over slack to keep communication streamlined and more direct. 

Some companies are still finding value in the traditional in-person meetings, but are adopting efficiency principles to keep them on topic and only cover the essentials. ShareSpace CEO Robert Chmielewski has this to say about meeting in person, “They’re best done in person because of their ability to convey emotions, ideas, and openness. Written form risks too much information getting lost in translation.” ShareSpace follows a three-step approach to their meetings 1) Define a clear purpose 2) set an agenda and 3) add questions for topic discussions. According to Chmielewski, this process helps eliminate the classic “Could have been an email” meeting while conversely eliminating miscommunication caused by emails that should have been meetings. 

There is no one size fits all solution to finding out how your company can make meetings more effective. By identifying the inefficiencies you may be facing, you can then find solutions to them. Whether it’s adopting approaches taken by other companies or thinking outside the box there is any number of ways you can help improve your company’s productivity and make meetings more enjoyable.

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