If you’re in business, it’s a pretty safe bet that at some point or another in the future you’ll need to call a meeting. So what’s the best way to plan a meeting to make sure it doesn’t swallow all your time? Here are some very simple yet effective tips and techniques to help keep your meeting running smoothly and, importantly, on time!
1. Make sure you need a meeting!
Think about what you want to discuss – do you need to call everyone in to talk through it or would an email work just as well? If you can use other ways just as effectively as calling a meeting, use them! You don’t want to waste everyone’s time (including your own) if they could be doing something else more productive and all you need to do is send an email!
2. Email those attending the meeting & inform them of what you intend to discuss
If everyone is prepared for the meeting it will run far more smoothly and quickly. Letting the meeting attendees know in advance exactly what you want to discuss with them will give them a chance to do some research beforehand.
3. Start with why you’ve called the meeting
Reminding everyone at the very beginning of the meeting why you have called it in the first place will help everyone to start on the same page. They’ll know what you want to talk about and hopefully not bring up other topics which should be saved for another time or place.
4. Have a preset agenda – and stick to it!
Meetings have a habit of being extended when attendees go off track and discuss subjects which were not originally intended to be discussed. If you are in charge of chairing the meeting make sure you draw their attention back to the agenda. Try not to be too abrupt or aggressive, when you are back on track you want attendees to feel they can talk without being barked at!
5. Encourage discussion
Although you certainly don’t want everyone talking at once, make sure you encourage everyone attending the meeting to enter the discussion. After all, you have asked them to be there for a reason! Listening to everyone’s thoughts and feedback can make the meeting run much more efficiently as you are likely to find the answers you are looking for! But remember tip 4 – don’t let everyone talk off the agenda otherwise you will rapidly lose time and focus!
Till next time,
Mike Gardner – The Time Doctor.