Throughout our careers, we have all spent plenty of hours in meetings. While some of them may have been beneficial, many of them were boring, confusing, and a complete waste of time. Unfortunately, too many meetings end up leaving everyone mentally exhausted and frustrated by the end. They tend to drag on and on and before long, everyone in the room is wondering the same thing: Why am I even here? This is because many managers have no idea how to run a meeting effectively. Effective meetings should be interesting and productive and they should provide an opportunity for team members to work together to make decisions or solve problems. Great managers understand the importance of effective meetings and they also realize that producing a great meeting takes planning and effort. Here are a few steps that you can take to ensure your next meeting is meaningful and effective.
Determine the Purpose
Let’s be honest: most of us have too many meetings on our calendars and not all of them are really necessary. Some meetings are very important, but others are a waste of time. Before you schedule a meeting you need to decide what you are trying to accomplish and whether or not a meeting is necessary to do so. If the answer is yes, be sure and determine your specific goals and purpose. A meeting should never be held for the sole purpose of sharing information. That can be done through an email, chat, or quick video message. Rather, meetings should have a purpose, such as project updates, customer feedback, new assignments, or problem solving.
Create an Agenda
To help prepare for your meeting, you need to develop an agenda. The agenda should outline what you are trying to accomplish, how much time it will take, and who is the best person to facilitate each topic. There are a number of agenda templates available that can be helpful in organizing your meeting or you can create your own step-by-step agenda. Once you have an agenda, share it with your employees prior to the meeting. This lets them mentally prepare ahead of time for what will be discussed.
Invite the Right People
Many employees dread meetings because the content is not relevant to them. That’s why it is important to take some time to decide whose input you really need and who is actually being impacted by this information. Only invite the people who will be directly involved and whose input is needed on the topic. It is best to keep the invite list as small as you can and don’t waste anyone’s time if they won’t be adding value to the conversation.
Start on Time
Nothing is worse than arriving at a meeting and waiting around for it to start. People are busy so be respectful of their schedule by starting the meeting on time. You should never penalize people that were on time by waiting for others who are late. If someone does walk in late and realizes they have missed some information, you will eventually get the message that they need to be more punctual. Starting on time is absolutely critical if you plan to end on time.
Stick to the Schedule
It is always important to email your attendees the agenda in advance along with a detailed schedule but you should also post this schedule in the meeting room. This keeps everyone on track and focused on the task at hand.
End on Time and Follow Up
If the meeting is scheduled to last an hour make sure it lasts only an hour. If the end of the meeting is near and there is more to discuss, schedule another meeting to finish up. After the meeting is over, it’s always good to follow up with everyone. People can have very different interpretations of what went on so you can clarify the information by emailing a quick memo that highlights what was accomplished. In this memo, you should document any responsibilities that were given, tasks delegated, and any assigned deadlines. This will make sure everyone is on the same page.