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The 3 golden rules that will make your meetings more productive

Do your meetings feel endless? Here's how to put a stop to that and only meet for as long as you need to. (Source: Getty, supplied)

Ever find yourself stuck in an interminable cycle of back-to-back meetings that make you wonder if you’ll ever have any time to do actual work?

According to productivity expert and ‘The 25-Minute Meeting’ author Donna McGeorge, the average office worker attends 400 meetings a year.

“That’s 220 hours trapped in unproductive meetings per annum,” she told Yahoo Finance.

What can we do about this? You could cancel all your meetings altogether – but if that’s not really a viable option, there are some tricks you can do to get more out of your meetings.

According to McGeorge, these are the three golden rules to follow to change up the meeting culture in your workplace:

1. Keep it short

When you put that meeting in your calendar, it might be booked for an hour just by default. But if you’ve got a couple of these locked in every day, you’ll start to dread them, says McGeorge.

You might think you need an hour – but you really don’t.

“Parkinson’s Law dictates that work will always expand to fill the time available for its completion. So by simply booking an hour or two-hour-long meeting, attendees will work to fill that time,” she said.

“Bolster productivity by keeping your meetings short. If you give people an hour they will lazily use an hour, but if you only give them 15 minutes, it’s amazing what they can get done in that time.”

2. Keep it strict

In some instances, yes, rules can kill creativity – but by the same token, discipline can boost productivity.

“If you only allow 15 minutes per meeting, you need to make every minute count, ensuring everyone is energised and on the same page,” McGeorge said.

“This requires discipline from all attendees, and a clear rule book to follow.”

Start by laying down the law to make your meetings run more smoothly and quickly.

For instance, get everyone to stick to a meeting brief or agenda. Before the meeting begins, create and share a meeting brief that is to be completed and reviewed by everyone in the meeting. Review it yourself for the first few minutes then discuss together.

Ban late-comers. There’s nothing worse than having a meeting delayed because someone has forgotten the meeting or hasn’t bothered to show up on time. McGeorge has heard of managers who lock the doors when the meeting begins, and other instances where decisions made in the meeting are final. Other managers even have red and yellow cards. “Ultimately it’s about setting agreements that value meeting time,” she said.

3. Get creative

Step outside the ‘bored-room’ and find different ways to hold your meeting, McGeorge said.

It’ll not only make your workplace culture stand out, but you’ll see real gains in creativity and engagement as well.

For instance, take the meeting to the nearest cafe, or go for a coffee run and hold a ‘walking meeting’ at the same time.

“In Canberra, just recently I’ve seen consulting and creative firm, Synergy Group, launch a mobile meeting solution that roams the city with coffee, music and light refreshments to encourage productivity and engagement,” McGeorge said.

“Whatever you do, it can be fun to think outside the box and do things differently.”

The future of work will be discussed at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit on the 26th of September 2019 in the Shangri-La, Sydney. Check out the full line-up of speakers and agenda for this groundbreaking event here and buy tickets here.

The inaugural Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit will launch on September 26 in Sydney's Shangri-La.