How to Have Fewer, Better Meetings

Meeting overload can leave you feeling undervalued, uninspired and disconnected from your work.

The answer isn’t to get rid of all meetings, unfortunately. Instead, focus on having fewer, more engaging meetings that can help you and your colleagues make the best use of each other’s time. Sound dreamy? Ask yourself these questions to make better meetings a reality.

First, do you even need to meet?

Before scheduling a meeting, ask whether the agenda items demand group input and action. If your meeting turns into a conversation between two people with several others passively listening — or not paying attention at all — it’s probably not the best use of everyone’s time. Only hold meetings if everyone invited can impact the topic at hand. Otherwise, it can probably be discussed in a one-on-one conversation in person, over the phone or through email.

Is your agenda realistic?

Sticking to a meeting agenda can be tough, especially if there’s a lot to cover in a short amount of time. You want to get through all of your discussion points, encourage your team to ask questions and share feedback — plus leave time to cover next steps and action items before wrapping up. Rather than rushing through agenda items, or being too strict about time management, keep your meeting agenda as concise and focused as possible.

Can everyone contribute to the conversation?

Think about successful meetings you’ve attended before — you probably had a chance to contribute to the conversation and, in turn, people valued what you had to say. You don’t want to promote a meeting culture where the same people talk a lot — and others don’t talk at all. So it’s important to find ways to help everyone participate.

Set some ground rules for meetings ahead of time, and make sure your team is aligned on expectations. Encourage active listening among your colleagues — it can help promote deeper understanding, and prevent people from interrupting each other. Also, set the tone that everyone’s voices and opinions are welcome, even if it’s just to say that you agree with something.

Does your meeting style need a refresh?

Meetings can feel tedious if they’re always the same format, or held in the same conference room over and over again. Try shaking things up by getting creative. Instead of reserving the same conference room every week, plan a standing meeting in a common area to get everyone on their feet and feeling more awake. You could also take your meeting outside on a nice day.

If you’re planning a more creative meeting where brainstorming and idea-sharing need to get done, start off by asking everyone an ice-breaker question — something that will help your team relax, open up and share thoughts more freely.

You have more power over your time than you realize — focus on quality interactions with your colleagues so you can boost your productivity and happiness at work.

At MetLife, we’re for the workforce. Find more insights on company culture and other workplace trends here.