If you’re working to achieve organizational Zen and not waste time, corporate meetings are a huge challenge! According to a survey of U.S. professionals by Salary.com, meetings ranked as the number one office productivity killer.
Here are 15 ideas to help you run more effective meetings.
- Be exclusive – don’t waste anyone’s time by asking them to attend if they don’t need to be there. Fight FOMO (fear of missing out) by assuring those not attending that they will get notes if topics come up that pertain to them.
- Be inclusive – make sure that everyone you invite has the opportunity to speak. You invited them for a reason. Make sure the quiet ones have time to speak.
- Start meetings with a quiet moment to help shift minds into the room and bring focus to the task at hand.
- Commit to staying focused for the duration of the meeting, i.e. no cell phones or computers in the room; no working on other stuff; no phone calls.
- Start on time and end on time. No exceptions. You set a precedent every time you hold a meeting and if you wait for everyone to get there before you start, the expectation is that you will do that again. And again. And again. And every time you wait to start you are wasting the time of everyone who showed up on time. Start on time and people will show up on time.
- Prepare a thoughtful agenda – not just an updated copy of the last agenda. AND be prepared to ditch the agenda if something big comes up. You want a plan and you have to be flexible. It’s a tightrope.
- Circulate the agenda prior to the meeting to make sure everyone is prepared and brings what they need to the meeting.
- Manage the meeting; stick to the agenda; keep the focus on the task at hand; make sure everyone has time to speak. And don’t let anyone hijack the meeting by doing too much of the talking.
- Keep the meeting positive. If your meeting turns into a gripe session, you are defeated. Focus on making positive changes to things you can fix. You can be honest – meetings are often called to figure out a mess, but keep the momentum moving forward.
- Assign a note taker to jot down key decisions made.
- Summarize at the end of the meeting – what was decided, and who is going to work on what, when. Decide if you need to meet again, and when.
- Circulate the notes after the meeting to attendees and to non-attendees who will benefit from the notes. Include the summary of action points by person, and dates to complete assignments. Catch up with folks on the due dates to make sure you stay on schedule. If you need a follow-up meeting, start with the summary of the previous meeting.
- If you have a regular weekly team meeting, split the meeting into two parts – one at the start of the week to talk about what needs to get done, and a second at the end of the week to assess how the week went. At the second meeting, decide what needs to move forward to the next week, and use that as a basis for your next agenda.
- Make meetings fun. Keep up a quick pace. Add surprises like having everyone stand, or do a walk-around-the-building meeting. Be purposeful. Be concise. Laugh. Don’t be dreadful.
- Don’t always meet as a big group. Meet one-on-one with direct reports as you see them working – and especially if you see them struggling. Ask what’s going on. Ask how you can help. Listen to the answers and take action. Don’t wait for a meeting to try to solve everything all at once!
If you are attending a meeting and not running it, you can still use this list as a reminder to be on time, be prepared, bow out of meetings that you don’t need to attend, take part while you’re there, and follow-up on any commitments you make.
And here’s a thought – maybe you don’t need a meeting. Meeting are a great way to build camaraderie and share ideas, but you can save time and money by holding virtual meetings – especially with staff or vendors who have to commute in from remote locations.
Also, if you are proposing an idea that takes research and thought, asking people to attend a meeting and come up with ideas on the spot may not get you the best results.
Wishing you productive meeting time!