Here’s a huge revelation guys – most of us hate long meetings and find them to be a waste of time. Heck, even Elon Musk, who is justifiably insane, believes that they are waste of time.

Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time. Please get [out] of all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short.

Elon Musk, 2018, CNBC Make it

We rarely follow what Musk says, but in this, we feel he has a good point. Long boring meetings can derail a company’s productivity and cause more problems and issues than it solves.

Here are some startup productivity killers – part 1 and 2

We scoured the internet and dipstick polled our network to find out what they think about long meetings. They do not think much of them to be honest, so here are a few tips we picked up a long the way to make meetings better.

people sitting on floor front of table

Take time to build a meeting strategy

Many founders do not believe that it is necessary to ‘waste’ time planning their meetings ahead of time. However, as your business scales, being able to effectively manage your time and communication means a lot more.

According to our research, meetings waste billions of dollars. It is estimated that in 2019 alone, it will cost businesses up to $399 billion in the U.S. and $58 billion in the U.K. While we do not have the studies for Asia on hand, I am willing to bet it is also costing businesses millions, if not billions of dollars every year.

A strong meeting strategy is often the solution to this issue. Set ground rules and build a culture that allows people to decline meetings because they know they won’t gain or add value.

What the %^@$ are status meeting?

I remember my first status meeting that had over 20 people in a room listening to a status of a project I didn’t even know existed a couple of minutes ago. Being from a different team, I could not have cared less.

When updating a company becomes a chore rather than a necessity, then maybe it is time to revisit that strategy on how you update the team. This is seen most frequently in product stand-up meetings where every morning, dozens of developers and product designers update each other on projects that may or may not concern them.

Rather than mandatory status meetings, it might be prudent to build a system of regular updates that can be viewed by everyone, but notifies those who need-to-know. This should help reduce unnecessary breaks in productivity and free up some time.

Walking meetings will save you time and keep you fitter

Om average, I am seated for about 8 hours a day with small breaks to use the toilet. This means, I probably do not get enough exercise to keep me going. This does effect my productivity as numerous studies suggest that some form of exercise helps with productivity.

We explore research-based productivity boosters for your startup

Walking might actually be one of the most effective ways to keep you healthier and more productive. If you combine the health benefits of walking and conducting a meeting during the walking session, you can kill two birds with one stone.

However, walking meetings can be challenging when the participant count is high or it is the inevitable rainy day, but is a viable option for many companies.

Emails and slack are there for a reason

We need to stop hating email right about now. While it might be an imperfect system, it is a lot less time consuming and intrusive than being forced into having a meeting about everything.

black laptop computer

Focus on learning how to communicate clearly over email. Do not want to waste time, then spend that extra minute on adding context and clear updates in the email, so you save an hour from avoiding a pointless meeting.

At Tech Collective, we often find any excuse to skip a meeting if we can get it all done over a Slack and a quick recap email. This means less face time with your colleagues, which, let’s be honest, is something most of us want any way.

Make every meeting count

Every meeting should mean something. Do not feel the need to attend meetings just because you got invited. I used to work with someone, who’s first response to every meeting was to respond ‘Maybe’ and then question the need for their presence at such meeting. It took some time for us to get used to it, but she was onto something there.

Finding yourself in a pointless meeting is tiring, wasteful and can be demoralising, because you know you’ve just forced yourself to waste an extra hour or two at work. If you’re organising a meeting, try to bring in people who are essential and allow people to pop in and out, if they are no longer required.

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