Almost every creative agency I’ve come across runs off the back of meetings. They’re crucial for assigning work, getting things done, and updating the team. But have you considered how many meetings is too many?
Excess meetings can be a big problem for creative agencies, wasting time and resources. In turn, this can affect efficiency and profitability, which no agency owner wants! This blog post aims to show you some simple ways to reduce the number of meetings to the optimal level your agency needs, as well as some tips to make the most of the meetings you do have.
But why are excess meetings problematic for creative agencies?
Before we dive in, let’s take a brief look into why your creative agency may want to consider reducing the number of meetings you have. I believe that it boils down to two main factors: efficiency and staff satisfaction.
Firstly, efficiency. In order for your agency to become more profitable (and what agency owner doesn’t want that?), it first needs to become as efficient as possible. Essentially, this means making sure that resources of all kinds aren’t being wasted. When staff’s time is tied up in endless meetings, the amount it costs your agency to complete a project goes up, and the efficiency of your resources as a whole goes down.
Secondly is staff happiness. If you ask many agency staff members what they don’t love about their job, long hours are often one of the top things cited. Of course, there is usually more than one reason for long hours at an agency, but excess meetings can play into this.
Some teams find that they are spending so long in meetings during the day, the only real time they have to do their 'actual' work is after hours, which can lead to poor job satisfaction. And, all creative agencies rely on having happy, fulfilled staff to run effectively. So, by reducing your meetings, your staff satisfaction levels may also rise, benefiting everyone.
5 simple ways to reduce meetings
1. Ensure good standards of communication
It’s a cliche saying, but communication really is key. If meetings are one of the only ways that teams can properly communicate with each other, time inevitably gets wasted as they’re used for catching up on all sorts of projects unrelated to the meeting’s topic.
One way to overcome this hurdle is to ensure that your agency has a strong fabric of communication woven into it. What this looks like will differ between agencies, but all team members need to know how and where they can communicate with others- including the agency owners. For example, if you’re a fully or hybrid-remote agency, this could be educating your team on how to effectively use communication programs such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. Or, project management software such as Monday.com or Trello may be useful to keep whole teams updated on a project’s status, without having to have a meeting about it.
2. Set an agenda - and stick to it!
Any successful meeting needs a good agenda that sets out the topics that are to be discussed. But, if you want to cut down on the time that meetings take, it’s important for everyone to understand that the agenda needs to be stuck to. That means no veering off topic!
Of course, it’s natural for teams to want to chat to each other about topics unrelated to the matter at hand. So, to ensure that meetings don’t get waylaid, encourage team members to set up occasional more informal chats with each other to go through anything not on the agenda, without the whole team having to be involved. This is especially important for newer employees, to help them get to know the team on a more personal basis and feel welcomed into the organisation.
3. Time blocking can be your friend
Time blocking is a well-known way to help individuals manage their time and become more productive. But have you considered how it could be used on an agency-wide scale? Perhaps you could consider time blocking the day into chunks. For example, times of the day where meetings can take place, and times where everyone can work independently on their creative tasks without being interrupted by constant meetings.
The effects of this should be two-fold. On the one hand, teams are more likely to use the meeting times they do have more effectively. And on the other hand, individuals can get stuck into more focused work, knowing that it is the only thing they have to worry about for a set amount of time.
Some businesses even chose to set dedicated meeting-free days, which could be a good option if you are struggling to get everyone to agree on when meetings should and shouldn’t take place during the day.
4. Consider a daily huddle
This tip may seem counterproductive- how can adding another meeting to the agenda help reduce the number your creative agency has? But, taking five or ten minutes at the start of each work day to come together as a team and briefly discuss your workload for the day and what projects everyone has on can genuinely help.
Daily huddles help ensure that everyone knows where everyone else is at with regards to specific projects and wider workloads. It also gives the team an opportunity to ask each other quick questions face-to-face- you may be surprised how many longer meetings can be avoided by asking questions and getting answers quickly, before issues become more urgent.
5. Don’t be afraid to decline meetings
It may seem like a workplace faux pas, but declining meetings really shouldn’t be a big deal. So, don’t be afraid to decline meetings that seem unnecessary or don’t have a clear agenda in place. Just let the meeting organiser know why you won’t be attending, and this may be the push they need to reconsider if the meeting is necessary, or how its focus can be improved so that it’s an efficient use of time for everyone.
3 tips to run a good meeting
So, now you have a better idea on how to reduce excess meetings in your creative agency, it’s important to ensure that the meetings you do have count. Here are a few quick tips to help you run better meetings that are more useful for everyone:
1. Use your agenda wisely
You’ve come up with a great agenda that sets out exactly what you want to discuss in the meeting and what you hope it will achieve- now what? It may sound simple, but it’s vital to ensure that everyone who will be attending the meeting has a copy of the agenda in advance.
This will ensure that everyone is going into the meeting with a clear picture of what it’s about, helping to focus the discussion. And, if anyone wants to add anything to the agenda, they can do so in advance, instead of derailing the discussion last-minute and wasting precious meeting time.
2. Ensure the meeting has a leader
It’s common for inefficient meetings to quickly turn into a free-for-all scenario, perhaps with several topics being discussed at once and the original purpose of the meeting long forgotten. This can easily be avoided by assigning a meeting leader in advance. The leader can help keep the discussion on track in terms of topics and timings, so that the agenda can be completed and the time is used as efficiently as possible.
3. Get everyone involved
If you have a hybrid or fully remote agency, your remote workers may suffer from meeting fatigue more than others. It can be difficult to be in endless meetings all day without the social interaction that comes from being in-person.
So, it’s important to ensure that meetings are catered towards everyone attending, whether in-person or virtually. Your meeting leader should make an effort to include remote participants, and ensure that their questions and suggestions are listened to as attentively as those who are in-person.
Furthermore, implementing good standards of communication across the agency can also help with this. Communication policies should also set out how remote workers can effectively communicate with those in-person, and vice versa, without the need for unnecessary virtual meetings.
Excess meetings can be a problem for many creative agencies, leading to a decline in staff satisfaction, efficiency, productivity, and eventually, profitability. However, reducing excess meetings is a relatively quick fix that will soon become the new norm for your agency, to its benefit.
If you want to focus on increasing your agency’s efficiency and profitability, reducing meetings is just one piece of the puzzle. There are plenty of other strategies that can be used in tandem to give you the greatest chance of success. However, knowing what these are and how to implement them can be challenging. This is where I come in. I can work with your creative agency to come up with a bespoke package that helps you reach your goals, without the traditional downsides of consultancy such as fixed contracts and unnecessary work. To find out more about my services and what I can do for you, please click here. Or, don’t hesitate to get in touch today by clicking here.