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Have remote meetings taken over your calendar? Try this.

Meetings are notoriously seen as a waste of time; many employees cite "too many meetings" as one of the reasons their workplace morale is low. In fact, the average office worker attends more than 60 meetings each month! And, work-from-home employees aren't exempt either – they may have even more meetings because they lack the on-premises collaboratory aspect of office work.

If you're concerned about the number of remote meetings taking over your calendar, you aren't alone. We've developed three strategies you can implement today to help you make the most out of meetings. Take note, these are tips to make the most out of meetings.

Disclaimer: Not Our Only Guidance

This is NOT advice on how to host better meetings.  If you're a supervisor, manager, or a business owner hoping to make the most of the meetings you're hosting, we've got other guidance for you, in the form of training tools and education, like the five-module certificate program sponsored by the Chamber and Commonwealth University- Bloomsburg Campus, called, "Management & Leadership", or the nine-month Leadership Central Penn program, facilitated by the Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber.

What Makes Meetings So Frustrating?

Several commonalities surface when workers are asked about their biggest frustration with meetings:

  • Meetings that start late or run over the scheduled end time waste time that you could be using for other tasks
  • A meeting without an agenda doesn't have a clear point and often leads to discussions about things that aren't relevant
  • Too many questions from attendees, especially things that could have been asked and answered in an email

Sometimes, you cannot fix someone who is chronically late or a "Chatty Cathy" that asks dozens of questions, but three key ways exist to make even the most mundane meeting part of a career success.

Improve Your Focus

Focus during meetings is a big problem – many people walk into the meeting already convinced it's a waste of time and will check emails or complete other work during the meeting. Even those ready to pay attention and contribute begin losing focus after just 10 minutes – and only about 4% of meeting attendees are still paying attention after an hour.

Instead of discreetly multitasking, use your meetings as an opportunity to hone your ability to focus. Repeatedly doing something difficult, like focusing on a long meeting, builds your mental muscles and improves your ability to concentrate. This skill carries over to other aspects of your job.

Invest in Your Professional Network

Building relationships with your colleagues and leadership team and developing a large professional network helps bolster your career prospects. Is your team sizeable?  Does it include different departments?  If so, you can use your meeting time for relationship-building. Meetings can be a good way to meet new people or talk to people you don't engage with daily.

Focus on the speakers in the meeting and ask them questions about the topics that allow them to elaborate further, or ask them to clarify certain points so that you understand their thought process and approach to problem-solving. Being one of the few people who is clearly engaged in the meeting can make you stand out in a good way.

Develop a Greater Depth of Knowledge

Collaboration in meetings, when done right, can often lead to greater success and problem-solving than individuals can alone. You may not realize the information that others in the meeting are privy to; with this extra info, you may be able to better solve a team problem since you have greater knowledge now.

When you learn how to collaborate effectively with others and demonstrate these skills in meetings, you earn a reputation as someone who can work with other personalities and focus on finding a solution that makes sense for everyone on the team. Information you glean from meetings can be used in other ways, too, like adding depth to a report or cluing you into a potential shift in the company.

Final Thoughts

If you treat work meetings as an exercise in building focus and a built-in way to improve your professional network, you'll be surprised at how your own morale improves, and your job success grows.

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