How to improve meetings, according to science


If you work in a corporate environment, then you’re probably familiar with the concept of the meeting. Unfortunately, some people often find themselves questioning why they even need to bother going to them, as all it really seems to do is waste time and decrease productivity. Too many meetings, in fact, have been cited as the main reason why workers feel they aren’t achieving their goals, while they also can cost companies millions of dollars in wasted time.

In truth, chances are that if you’re feeling like a meeting is a waste of time, it’s not being done right. Here’s how to improve meetings, according to science.

Two-pizza limit

Amazon operates a two-pizza limit to the number of people it brings in to a meeting. They argue that if you have more people attending than two pizzas can feed, there are simply too many (people, that is, not pizzas). If your company is bringing in far too many people to its meetings, then it’s likely that those numbers can be easily reduced and the information generated simply circulated afterward.

Not everyone needs to be in the loop for every meeting, and they can be filled in at a later stage. When the number of attendees in a meeting rises above eight, it requires a highly skilled facilitator to chair the meeting, but it’s a skill that few people actually have.

You might be the issue

If you chair a regular meeting and do a lot of the talking, you might come away thinking your meeting was a success. Just because you spoke a lot, however, doesn’t mean everyone was engaged and listening. There are times when you have to take a step back and admit that the issue in your meetings might simply be – you!

To help improve meetings, science researcher Steven G. Rogelberg suggests conducting short surveys when they conclude. He believes the information gained from these surveys is perfect for figuring out what’s going well and what isn’t.

Cut back on duration

The default meeting time for many years seems to have ballooned to 60 minutes, but Rogelberg doesn’t believe this to be an effective duration. He states that amusingly enough, default meeting times in Microsoft Outlook were set at 60 minutes, so that’s how long people used to schedule their meetings for.

The expert believes that scheduling shorter meetings will make us more productive as we tend to work better under pressure. Knowing that longer doesn’t necessarily mean better will help to improve the effectiveness of your meetings.

Be inclusive

Thanks to the wonders of technology, everyone no longer has to be in the same room for a meeting to happen. Many people are on calls or video in meetings now, but it’s important to remember they are there. Wherever possible, remote participants to the conference should be on a video call, as it reminds everyone in the room they are there. It also ensures the remote participant doesn’t fade away into the background and becomes more engaged in the conversation.

Meetings are tricky to get right, but thanks to science there are a few ways to make them better. Make them shorter, with fewer people, and don’t forget to get feedback to see where you can improve further.