5 Common Meeting Mistakes

Did you know that approximately 11 million meetings take place EVERY DAY in the United States? That is simply mind-boggling to me! Even worse… a third of them are generally unproductive. And time is money! An estimated $37 billion is lost every year because of employees and leaders taking part in unproductive meetings. Yikes!

I see many mistakes happen over and over again in many different types of businesses. Heck… I’ve been guilty of a few of these myself in the past. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned from my mistakes! You should learn from them, too! 

These are the top 5 Common Meeting Mistakes that I have encountered on a regular basis. Avoid them at all costs!

1. Trying to Be and Do Everything

At the end of the day, the goal of all of your meetings should be to solve some problem or item that has cropped up within your business. You know which ones you need to solve in order to get everything else in the business running smoothly, but maybe you aren’t the right person to solve them all.

Get clear on who you need to bring into the meeting so you do a really good job in getting the things fixed that need fixing. Why waste peoples’ time if they aren’t directly related to a specific project that you need to have a meeting on? It can be a fine line on inviting too many people versus not having the right people in the meeting that you need. 

Even better… why are YOU attending every meeting that you could easily delegate to someone else? You’re much better off solving the few problems that align with your specific goals quickly and easily, as opposed to wasting your days in meetings to attempt to solve problems that you probably aren’t qualified to be in on. It just results in solutions that may not best be suited for the problem, or worse yet, your employees resenting you for stepping in on something they easily could have handled. 

2. Having Too Many Of Them

Did you know that according to business research, they have found that a third of all business meetings aren’t productive? Look at how much time you’re tying up your employees, as well as yourself, that could be spent doing things that would actually effect the bottom line! Consider having fewer meetings and make the ones you do have as productive as possible. 

For those times when you feel a meeting is needed, shoot a quick email or phone call over to the intended recipient and see if there is a way to get what you need before calling in the affected individuals for a face-to-face meeting. 

3. You Have a Weak, or Non-Existent Agenda

Let’s face it. I’ve been a part of more meetings that I can remember where there wasn’t a specific agenda that was outlined on what we were going to be going over in a specific meeting. And I’ve been guilty of not creating one, as well! Sure, I’ve went in knowing the general idea of what the meeting was about, but an itemized list of what REALLY needs to get decided? Not a chance.

How are you ever going to see if your meeting is going off the rails if you don’t have an agenda in front of you?

Another great idea when it comes to an agenda, is not letting it bind you to the timeframe of the meeting. What if you’re able to knock out what you need 15 minutes into a 60 minute meeting? Than call the meeting over! Make sure you have a list of discussion points and action items available and when each one is reached, cross them off. Once the items have been handled, move onto the next thing in your day! Because one thing that is super unproductive is sitting in a 60 minute meeting that could have been handled in half that time!

Finally, if you go through the work of setting an agenda, make sure that it doesn’t change as the meeting progresses! Don’t let others come in and hijack an agenda item or have the topic get changed. And it’s not a bad idea to have times assigned to each topic, as well! This will help the meeting stay on track and you’ll also make sure that all of the important topics get covered. Even if you’re able to whiz through them quicker than the timeframe you allowed, it’s better than dragging on and not accomplishing half of your goals.

Don’t forget to do a quick recap at the end of the meeting, as well, to discuss who is doing what and deadlines are assigned to items. Preparing an tentative agenda with minimal feedback at the end of a meeting may also help to move things along. 

4. Not Being Results Oriented

You pay your employees for results, right? So why are you setting up meetings or allowing them to set up meetings where results aren’t going to be achieved? I’ve witnessed the endless circle of meetings to talk about a specific project, just to watch it fizzle and not move onto the next step. Why? Because they aren’t results-oriented. 

Paint a picture of what you expect people to walk away from the meeting knowing. What specifically needs to be accomplished? Make sure you are recording important actions that are coming out of a group discussion and in order to make sure actions are moving forward, assign them to people before the meeting ends! If an action isn’t assigned or someone isn’t working to complete it, nothing will be accomplished after the meeting is adjourned. 

5. You Don’t Have an Effective Facilitator

Who is bringing the discussion back to the topic when things go off kilt? Who is helping to dig into topics when they come up and is keeping everyone focused on the agenda and goals at hand? 

Great facilitators bring out the best in a team and are responsible for insuring that the agenda is followed and adhered to. While they may also record the items that are happening during the meeting, they generally are there to make sure the meeting is effective. 

Step up that meeting leadership role and you will learn that you are generating enormous influence among your employees! You also will be keeping things productive and make individuals feel that things were handled successfully. 

Running meetings can be a bit like an art! There are lots of things to consider to make sure they are as beneficial as possible. Take responsibility for the meetings that you are a part of and pretty soon you’ll have people asking what your secret is to running such good meetings!