This interview was featured on Inc.com on 28/3/2016. Written by Chris Dessi CEO, Silverback Social

As an entrepreneur, time is a precious commodity. Deciding how to spend your time can make or break your startup. Meetings can be a huge time suck. Unproductive meetings are estimated to cost American businesses 37 billion dollars a year.

I’m always looking for ways to become more efficient, and effective. Sometimes I leverage products to help me improve my productivity. Other times I wing it. This is usually when I get into trouble and make mistakes that ruin my meetings.

Productive meetings that just happen can super charge your team. Unproductive meetings can kill ideas, slow down teams and destroy your companies culture.

I recently learned about Fred Mouawad, CEO of Taskworld. Fred created Taskworld to help solve the problem of unproductive meetings.  He was managing six different companies across several time zones, and needed a way to become more efficient and stop wasting money.

Here are three tips from Fred on how to stop wasting time on unproductive meetings.

     1. Fix an agenda and set a time limit.

When Fred told me that I need to stick to an agenda, I’ll admit that I rolled my eyes. But the added punch of setting a time limit to meetings helped turn me. Fred advised that you need to “take action the core element of your agenda.”

So Instead of saying, “we will discuss pricing in the meeting”, say “we will come up with pricing limits in the meeting.” I think this is a powerful paradigm shift. While subtle, I can see how changing the language you use will impact the outcome of your meeting.

     2. Transform ideas into tasks.

Fred says to “open your meeting project and record conclusions in the form of tasks. This helps the group to come up with action oriented insights. ” I love this tip.  The ability to have definitive marching orders after every meeting is powerful.

Putting individuals to task will help keep people accountable.  It will also allow your team to track progress. To help your team execute on these tasks, I find it helpful to break the task down as much as you can.

So for example: if your task is to create an offsite meeting with the sales team. Break it down in steps:

  • Step 1: Contact Bill, VP of Sales.
  • Step 2: Check Bill’s teams availability for an offsite.
  • Step 3: Investigate possible locations for the offsite, etc, etc.

     3. Assign work on the spot.

Fred advises to “Assign tasks to the team members and set completion date for the same. Further advising to “use tags and labels to prioritize work.” I’ve recently implemented Fred’s advice here, and have been reaping the rewards.

Again, it’s a simple concept, but how often to we leave meetings with no assignments to execute the powerful ideas we’ve come up with together.  When there is public discussion about tasks, we’re all held accountable. This alleviates any stress surrounding roles and also ensures full support by the team if a team member is having trouble with his or her assignment.

How have you helped your company become more efficient with meetings?

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