We’ve all been in meetings without a clear purpose that drags on and on. Inefficient meetings result in huge costs since employees are kept from doing other important work. Inefficient meetings also lower employee satisfaction possibly leading to higher employee turnover. Here are some meeting tips to set you up for success:
Make the purpose clear
Most of the time you spend on a meeting should be spent before you even enter the meeting room. Send an extremely focused and actionable agenda including any background materials ahead of time so people know what you’ll cover.
The purpose of meetings is to make decisions and get work done. For the most part, meetings are not the best way to simply share information.
Control the size and have appropriate attendees
Meetings can get out of control if there are too many people in the room. By limiting the number of attendees and only inviting key people, you ensure that your meeting stays structured and you achieve the outcome you want.
The people in the meeting room make or break your effectiveness. You will want to have the key person present – a manager or executive – so significant decisions can be made.
Set the appropriate tone and structure
As a manager, it is up to you to ensure meeting attendees feel comfortable enough to contribute. Instead of lecturing or trying to convince people of your viewpoint, be open to hearing other’s perspectives. Before you transition from one agenda item to the next, ask if everyone is finished with the current topic. Giving enough people time to discuss their viewpoints will help keep the conversation focused.
Keep meetings as short and concise as possible
Ideally, you should only schedule 15-minute meetings up to a maximum of 30-minutes. This allows you to ensure your agenda is kept focused and clear of clutter. If you limit the number of attendees and your colleagues have done their homework, you won’t need more time.
Stick to your agenda
At the beginning of the meeting, explain you expect everyone to focus their discussions on the agenda. All meeting attendees should prepare their input before the actual meeting.
For constant interrupters: Instead of letting employees dominate the conversation, you can ask them to continue during the break or after the meeting.
For dissenters: For those unhappy with the direction or territorial about decisions made, you may need to address the underlying issue head on before refocusing on the stated agenda. Tackling this directly will help to appease the dissenter and get your meeting back on topic.
For ramblers: The meeting can degenerate if extraneous points are being raised. If your co-workers start to discuss items that are outside of the scope of your meeting, you can suggest a separate one-on-one conversation to go through their concerns. In this situation, you can also use the Parking Lot technique: advise the topic raised is outside the scope of this meeting but you will write it down in the parking lot and include in meeting notes to explore further if necessary.
End your meeting with action items
The main purpose of a meeting is to achieve completion of tasks through decisions and/or actions. When further action is needed, ask the following 3 questions:
- What are the next steps?
- Who is responsible for them?
- What is the timeframe?
Spend a couple minutes to recap so everyone is aware of their responsibilities and is held accountable. After the meeting, send out meeting minutes on a timely basis with the specific action items discussed at the end of the meeting.
Whether you’re getting ready for a weekly departmental meeting or convening an executive group to discuss corporate strategy, these tips can help make your next meeting the most focused and productive one yet.