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The science—and strategy—behind having a 'great meeting'

November 22, 2013

    Meetings. Can't live with them. Can't have a workday without them.

    There are about 11 million formal meetings in the United States every day—and more than half of them may be unproductive, Harvard Business School Professor Nancy Koehn told public radio program Marketplace recently.

    Why? Because many meetings are inefficiently run. They don’t set or achieve clear goals. And we hold them out of habit.

    There’s a real business cost to scheduling so many unproductive meetings, Koehn and others warn. Wharton researchers noted that the average middle manager spends nearly 44 hours every month in meetings; for senior executives, it may be closer to 100 hours.

    The 'anatomy of  a great meeting' 

    It's clear that many meetings are unnecessary. But if you do have to assemble, there are simple solutions to make that meeting a sucess.

    Drawing on best practices—as well as lessons from across our own organization—my colleagues at the Advisory Board created this useful infographic to guide if you really need a meeting (and if so, how to maximize everyone's time).

    Download the PDF

    (And once you're in a meeting, productive or not, what's the secret to making your case? MIT researchers investigated how to convince your co-workers to accept your idea. Three of the most persuasive words? "Yeah," "give" and "start.")

    More lessons for the workplace

    Seeking other solutions to resolve office conflict? Check out these Daily Briefing stories:

    How to motivate staff, without financial incentives

    Money is not the only motivator, Steven Berkow points out. Organizations can establish team-based, non-financial incentives in three steps:

    • Identify possible rewards. Involve your staff in brainstorming ideas and selecting which rewards to use.
    • Set clear performance targets. Your staff should know when the reward is approaching and when they have achieved it.
    • Grant the reward in a timely fashion. Give your staff their reward as soon as they've earned it.

    Watch the video to learn more, then visit the frontline accountability topic page to browse the latest best practice research, expert guidance, webconferences, and more from across the Advisory Board.

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