Many people consider meetings to be one of the corporate world’s worst time-suckers. Bad meetings drone on forever, never seem to get to the point, and leave you wondering why you were even supposed to attend, while effective meetings leave attendees energized and feeling like they’ve really accomplished something.
We’ve covered meeting productivity in the past. Here are a few ways to turn meetings from time-wasters into effective uses of your employees’ workday.
- Set an objective — Don’t call a meeting before knowing what outcome you would like to come out at the end of it. Think beforehand what you want to accomplish. Do you want a decision made? Do you want to generate ideas? A status report? To help you figure it out, complete this sentence: “At the end of the meeting, I want the group to…” By defining the end result, you can invite the right attendees and plan an agenda.
- Write an agenda — Send the agenda to participants beforehand so they know what to expect and can plan ahead. It should describe meeting objectives, topics to cover, who will address each topic, and for how long. While writing it up, consider the following factors:
- What priorities absolutely must be covered
- What results should be accomplished at the meeting
- Who should attend for the meeting to be successful, and what role will they they play there
- In what order topics should be addressed, and how much time to spend on each
- Use time wisely — The agenda should be your time guide. Note items that need further discussion. If time is running out for one item, consider hurrying the discussion along, making a decision about it, assigning a subcommittee to tackle it, or tabling it for another meeting.
- Be a moderator — So that everyone walks out satisfied instead of sulky, make sure speakers stay on topic, and that all participants actually participate. If a few people are dominating the conversation, ask others for their ideas. Watch body language for signs of boredom or frustration. At the end of each agenda item, make a summary of what was said, and ask people if they agree. List tasks that were generated by the meeting, and make a note of who’s assigned to tackle each, and by what date.
- Send out the summary — Make sure someone at the meeting writes down what happened. Then summarize the notes to cover what was accomplished, a list of to-do items, who is responsible for each, and what is the deadline. Send the summary to all meeting attendees and other relevant people so they know what’s needed to move the ball forward post-meeting.
- Do the analysis — After the meeting, determine what went well and what could have been done better. Ask the attendees to evaluate the meeting’s effectiveness and whether the objective you initially set was met. By assessing what took place afterward, you know how to improve the next meeting.
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