Have you ever felt that your meetings were a waste of time? More importantly, have you heard comments from your team that your meetings were a waste of time?
We all have the same hours in a work day. Time is valuable. Boring, unproductive meetings are a waste of precious time and resources.
When a new initiative is being launched or new ideas are needed, the approach is often, “Well, let’s have a meeting.” At least it will seem like we are doing something. Unfortunately, not enough thought goes into how to conduct those meetings.
Here are a few suggestions to make your meetings more productive.
What’s the Purpose?
It’s important to run through a checklist before putting it on everyone’s schedule. Make sure the meeting is even necessary. Could the information you want to provide be just as easily presented in an email? What do you want to accomplish at the meeting? Will reaching that goal really require a group decision?
What are the Key Points?
Having a plan can ensure a quality meeting and make clear what needs to be done. List three to six items, accompanied by how long they will take to discuss and who the discussion leaders will be.
Keep the number of required attendees as small as possible, and if critical members can’t attend, consider postponing the meeting until all can be present. Having a meeting without them can cause just as many delays and productivity problems as postponing the meeting a couple of days.
Signs your meeting has gone on too long.
Eyes may start wandering to watches, Blackberrys and wall clocks as those attending wonder when they’ll be able to get back to their to-do lists. But if they know exactly when a meeting will be over, they won’t spend their time internally speculating about when they can leave.
The meeting becomes a free-for-all.
Set conversational ground rules right away, such as requiring everyone to participate or speak in headlines to avoid rambling.
Make sure to record what went on by documenting on a flip chart the who, what and by when. Once this information has been collected and finalized, send out the minutes to all attendees to ensure confirmation and commitment. This makes sure all attendees have the same information and the same understanding.