Time is a valuable resource; one that people aren’t happy to “waste” in unnecessary or unproductive meetings.
We can’t eliminate meetings all together, but there are ways in which you and those you meet with can make meetings more efficient and enjoyable.
- Is the meeting necessary?
This is a key question you and attendees need to ask yourselves. Is the meeting really necessary or can it be taken care of with a phone call, email, or a quick in-person chat (no longer than 15 minutes)?
- Book a meeting room
If the issue/topic requires a meeting, then book a meeting room. The right environment can break or make a meeting. A meeting room helps reduce distractions, it provides the necessary tech resources, and it helps people get in the right state of mind.
- Carefully select attendees
Make sure those who attend the meeting are key stakeholders in the issue/topic at hand. Large meetings tend to be less productive and having only key stakeholders participate is an effective way to make sure the meeting is short and addresses key points of discussion.
- Send an agenda
One way to make sure the meeting stays on track is to send a meeting agenda prior to the meeting. This will give all attendees the opportunity to review topics/issues and make sure that they are prepared.
- Start on time
Time is a valuable resource. If you don’t start on time, then people will think you don’t value and respect their time. Starting on time also means you will end on time.
- Use a timer
Each agenda item should be allocated with a specific amount of time. Use a timer to make sure people don’t run over and to make sure people don’t get off topic.
- Take notes
Make sure you or someone else is taking meeting notes and writing down who is responsible for each action. This is a key step to effective meetings as it will provide you with the necessary information to follow-up.
- Don’t interrupt and listen to others
Even if you have something valuable to add, make sure the person speaking finishes before you start talking. Interruptions kill the flow of a meeting and they are seen as an opportunity to engage in other activities (like checking the phone). Make sure you listen to what others have to say and that you don’t interrupt them mid-way.
- Be flexible
You might find that you didn’t allocate enough time for a specific meeting point; if it’s important and if the discussion is being fruitful, then be flexible with your agenda. Sometimes others might raise issues that hadn’t been previously considered. Being flexible, when necessary, can help in making sure the meeting covers all key talking points and issues.
- Follow up
For a meeting to be truly productive and for it to give the necessary results, you need to follow-up with attendees. Make sure you send an email no later than 2 days after the meeting reviewing what the meeting was about, what was agreed on during the meeting, and who is responsible for what.