One of the many responsibilities of being an agency leader is attending meetings. Meetings scheduled with clients, other leaders in the organization, individual employees or teams, or carrier reps can quickly fill up calendars. And while there is value in pulling people in the agency together to review, regroup, and strategize on agency initiatives, meeting fatigue is real. And even though many meetings are happening virtually, reducing the time it takes to “run” from one to the next, it can still be exhausting and rob individuals of productivity.
Here are some tips for reducing meeting overload and zoom burnout.
Prepare for the meeting –
Proper preparation is key to the success of any meeting. Failing to invest time to plan before the meeting can lead to wasted time once you get everyone in the meeting. When preparing, remember these critical items:
- Decide who needs to be at the meeting. This tip may seem obvious but depending on the purpose and cadence of the meeting, not every scheduled time will work for everyone. Understanding who is required to achieve meeting objectives best and who is optional will help guide decisions around scheduling and rescheduling.
- Set an agenda for the meeting in advance. Ask participants for items they want on the list and set a deadline for submitting them to the organizer. If this is left open-ended, participants may feel they have room to add items and request adjustments to a finalized meeting schedule. Also, if any documents are pertinent to the agenda, collect and distribute those ahead of time so that all attendees have access and can adequately prepare for discussions.
Assign a meeting leader –
Every meeting needs someone that is on top of it and taking charge. Without someone leading a meeting, the conversation can quickly get off-topic, or discussions that are more appropriate for another time and place can consume the entire meeting. Once this starts, it is hard to get a meeting back on track, leaving the meeting’s goals untouched and the group tired and frustrated with the time they have just invested without any results.
The meeting leader does not necessarily need to be the meeting organizer. However, it should be someone familiar with the agenda and goals of the meeting. It is a challenging role depending on how long-winded or unfocused participants are. It will require someone with tough skin who is willing to stick to the schedule, cut people off who are running over their allotted time and shut down unproductive discussion. As difficult as it may be, this role is critical to ensure that the meeting continues moving forward, and those meeting objectives remain a top priority.
End on time –
We have all felt the frustration of a meeting that goes on past the scheduled time. When an end time is perceived as fluid by one or more persons involved, it can lead to more off-topic discussion and side-barring throughout the meeting. When a meeting runs long, it can create a domino effect of scheduling conflicts throughout the day. This lack of structure leaves attendees feeling like they are running to catch up late to their next obligation.
Committing to end time and honoring that shows participants that you respect their time. Also, knowing that there is a defined end time for the meeting can help keep the agenda on track.
Meetings are a part of doing business with others and can have a positive impact if done well. Using the tips above can help your agency improve and conduct more effective meetings.
For more on this topic, check out the full episode of The Independent Agent below.