Your Meetings Are Crap. Here’s Why

Since the mass migration to remote work in March, employees have been putting the pedal to the metal, extending the average workday by 48.5 minutes from 9.84 hours to 10.75 hours in order to help their companies adapt to the changing market. However, longer hours do not necessarily mean more productivity. 

Since March, the number of meetings attended by workers has increased by 12.9% with the average number of attendees per meeting increasing by 13.5%. However, the average length of meetings fell by 20.1%. This means that employees are hopping on more frequent calls with more people, for shorter amounts of time. Because people take an average of 23 minutes to refocus on a task when interrupted, the argument could be made that employees are not working “more” but they are simply interrupted more and taking more time to refocus.  

Meetings are meant to be an engine of productivity and yet, 71% of senior managers said, “meetings are unproductive and inefficient.” The stats speak for themselves, so it’s time to face the facts: your meetings are not productive. 

Here are 4 reasons why your meetings are not productive, and how to turn them around:


It may seem obvious, but many managers overlook this simple step. With the added element of more meetings held virtually, an agenda is even more important to ensure employees call in prepared and ready to participate. Setting a clear sense of purpose for the meeting provides a compass for the conversation, to help you better steer the discussion back on course if it gets off track. This also allows team members to feel prepared beforehand.


We’ve all been there: you show up to a meeting early, only to have it start 10 minutes late, and as the discussion derails, it ends much later than the proposed stopping point. With meetings being held virtually, it is even more imperative to stick to the schedule to ensure everyone is on the line when they need to be. 

To elevate efficiency in your meetings, start taking time more seriously. Communicate that if the meeting is at 8am, it starts at 8am, so on-time is late. Outline time-slots for each agenda item you need to accomplish or topic to discuss. This holds yourself and the team accountable to stay on track.


If you’re running a meeting, it may be tempting to take charge of the conversation immediately, but this could stifle creativity. As a leader, try not to steer the ship right away. It may take a few more seconds of silence for employees to come off mute and share their ideas. When you control the conversation and share your thoughts first, you’ll likely see a lot of head nodding and miss out on different perspectives.

At the beginning of the meeting, after the agenda is set and clear, sit back and listen. Ask engaging questions and explore diverse ideas. Flush out the facts and ensure every voice is heard. For example, set the tone for the conversation during a brainstorm by communicating that no idea is a bad idea. This discourages ideas being shot down and encourages openness and vulnerability.


In the last few minutes, recap who is responsible for what, and emphasize the deadlines you discussed. Circulate the action plan via email after the meeting, so everyone on the team has a clear understanding of what to do. According to The New York Times, “a successful real estate operating company uses a phrase to end meetings that has a common acronym in office e-mails: W.W.D.W.B.W., which stands for, Who Will Do What By When?” Hold yourself and your team accountable so you leave the meeting prepared and have a focused vision for the results to come. 


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