We have all sat through in-effective meetings, you know the ones, they go on and on, chipping away at our spirit as well as our time.
Calling a meeting often seems like an instinctual reaction; you have some information you want to impart and what better way to share it? But if the only thing you manage to achieve is losing two hours of your day to a room full of bemused participants, then you might want to reconsider how you structure future sessions.
Below are some tips that will help you create more effective meetings.
What’s the point of the meeting?
There’s little value in hosting a meeting that has no purpose. Before you round up the troops, decide whether you really need to run the meeting. Why is the meeting important and who needs to attend in order to make it effective? What are you hoping to achieve from the experience?
You may want to solicit your colleagues’ feedback on general matters, but is organising a meeting the best course of action? Consider other ways of communicating with your team, such as sending out a memo or survey.
Sometimes meetings can offer a convenient escape route from the decision making process. Just be mindful of the real reasons for holding them.
Avoid surprising the participants
If you intend to run a meeting to brainstorm a few ideas, great! Just let your team know what the meeting is about, well in advance. This means providing adequate information that will enable them to make a valuable contribution.
You will benefit from their insights and interesting points of discussion and make a good return on your time investment.
Create an agenda and stick to it
Effective meetings have direction and the best way to keep your meetings on track is to create an agenda. A well structured agenda will help to focus the group and maximise the productivity of the session.
As meetings have a tendency to digress, make a point of only covering what’s in the plan. New points that are thrown up during the discussion are best left for future meetings, but only if they warrant the additional time.
Allocate a set timeframe
Make sure you schedule enough time to cover all the points in your agenda. Allocate a time limit for each item you want to discuss and don’t go over that limit. This will help to maintain better control of the meeting and your time.
Establish ground rules
If you want your meetings to run efficiently, then it’s down to you to establish the tone for how they will be conducted. This means setting ground rules to ensure everyone is prepared; people turn up on time; they turn off or mute their mobile phones; respectfully listen to other the participants and follow up on all action points.
Ground rules such as these contribute to the success of your meetings and avoid the need to arrange additional sessions to ‘tie up the loose ends’.
People often consider meetings to be one of the biggest time stealers within the working environment. But in learning to host more effective meetings you can actually save more time. It all comes down to the planning; have a clear purpose for your meeting, gather those who will make the best contribution and set workable boundaries.
Till Next Time
The Time Doctor – Mike Gardner