Meetings can sometimes be seen as taking too much valuable time away from tasks deemed more important. This is usually because many meetings aren’t running as efficiently as they otherwise could be. Keep reading to find out how you could make the most of your time with productive and efficient meetings.
Prepare and plan carefully
First of all, it should go without saying that agendas are crucial, and you must prepare them carefully. They help you stay on track when it comes time to hold the actual meeting. When writing an agenda, keep in mind that meetings should be discussions so try to plan questions to ask rather than statements to just announce.
Also, while you should prepare your agenda carefully, they can also be flexible. It’s just usually better to have it written down in case you decide to bring it up. It’s a case of better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Moreover, once this agenda has been written out, distribute it in advance. Presenting reports and going over the agenda for the first time during the meeting can be a waste of time. By letting all attendees see it ahead of time, you can save everyone’s time during the meeting. Similarly, this will allow people to prepare for the meeting in advance and get their thoughts and queries in order so that they can focus better when it starts.
In addition, try to check that all required equipment and technology is functioning correctly so that the meeting can run efficiently and smoothly.
Make meetings shorter
Research shows that our attention span goes into a progressive decline if a meeting runs just a little too long. A time limit of 10-15 minutes can make all the difference and can ensure that all attendees will soak up more from the time you spend.
Start off on a good foot
Starting a meeting can sometimes determine how engaged everyone is. For starters, you should aim to start on time. A late start tends to give a negative impression and as meetings already take up valuable time, employees/colleagues may lose trust in you if you waste even more of their time.
Allow for transit time though. An extra 5 or 10 minutes at the start allows for all participants to arrive, get their act together, and focus.
You should also think about allowing for time to check in with the participants of the meetings. By checking how everyone is feeling, what’s going through their mind, and if everyone is ok, you allow attendees to fully engage in the meeting and feel more able to express their thoughts both at the start and throughout.
Find a way to energise and motivate everyone attending too. Sometimes this can be a good speech but if you’re lacking in that department then even a fun or funny (yet relevant) story or video clip can help focus their attention and start off positively.
Every meeting needs a leader
The leader should make the purpose of the meeting clear from the start (which will be easier if the agenda was sent out in advance) and make sure everyone sticks to it. It may help to bring a whiteboard or a flip chart to keep track of the topics you want to discuss and check off any that you think you’ve covered.
You should bear in mind that opening issues for discussion without a clear goal or purpose in mind will allow participants to hijack the meeting. As the leader, it’s your job to stay focused and to quickly sidestep irrelevant tangents to the conversation.
Some restrictions are necessary
The first kind of restriction to consider is the number of attendees. Some meetings just simply do not require the whole team so think about only inviting those that are necessary for each meeting. People also tend to be more open in small group settings as opposed to larger groups and if you want a more productive and efficient meeting then it’d serve you well to have participants that are willing to speak more openly.
Also, reconsider if the meeting is completely necessary in the first place. Is there a more efficient way to get this information across? Productivity can be slowed when there’s a set schedule for meetings each and every week. Try to only meet when something needs to get done or decisions need to be made.
When you’re wrapping up at the end of the meeting, it’s important that you outline the outcomes to refresh it in everyone’s mind and then plan for your next meeting.
You should also think about giving out homework to the participants. Make sure everyone clearly knows each of their responsibilities and what actions they should be taking next.
If you want to check how productive the meeting was, you might even want to go around and ask each participant to share an insight they gained or a part of the meeting they found to be helpful. To keep the ending fun, you may even want to include a small award. For example, you might award a team member that has achieved something worthwhile or shown great improvement and the award could be anything from a medal to a snack from a vending machine.
Finally, make sure to end the meeting on time. For a meeting to truly be productive and efficient, it’s vital that it does not take any more time than what was scheduled.
Hopefully, these tips have given you more insight on how to run more productive meetings.