There’s a good chance you groan each time you receive a meeting invite. Why? Because more often than not you find yourself in a meeting that started ten minutes late, had no one in charge, lasted way too long, and accomplished way too little. Research suggests that only about 50% of meeting time is used effectively, and there’s evidence to suggest that remote meetings score even lower. Ineffective meetings are all too common, yet they derail productivity, frustrate employees, and decrease workplace morale. An effective meeting, on the other hand, brings people together, allows for open communication, and delivers a tangible result. Therefore, it is imperative that managers learn strategies for holding effective and meaningful meetings. Here are some of the top tips for running effective meetings.
Plan in Advance
Productive meetings require careful thought and planning. This goes for all meetings, whether they are regular weekly meetings or urgent meetings. Many managers make the mistake of scheduling a meeting without putting much thought into its purpose or goal. Before scheduling any meeting, it is important to consider your specific purpose for the meeting. What specifically are you trying to accomplish? What exactly do you want to address? Also, consider how long you will need the meeting to last in order to accomplish your goal.
Create an Agenda
As part of your planning process, establish an agenda with a clear scope of the entire meeting. Make a list of agenda items that need to be covered and estimate the amount of time it will take to discuss each one. Do be careful not to try and address too many different issues in one meeting. You can always schedule another meeting to discuss further items. Also, be sure to factor in time at the end for Q&A, open discussion, and collaboration.
Start and End on Time
Nothing can steal the energy from the room like waiting for the person in charge to show up to a meeting. If you schedule a meeting to start at a certain time, make sure you are there and ready to begin right at that time. After all, time is money, and time that is wasted sitting around waiting is wasting a precious resource. On that same note, make sure your meeting ends on time. A definitive end time will help ensure you accomplish what’s on your agenda and will also allow others to return promptly to their work.
Invite the Right People
Less is more when it comes to meetings. Meetings with too many people are often less productive. Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself who should be there and why. If they don’t have a role that is related to the topic of the meeting, don’t invite them. There’s no sense in inviting people who have nothing to do with the particular content being discussed.
If you are meeting in person, laptops should be closed and phones should be turned off. You want to make sure that everyone in attendance is prepared to participate and is not distracted by these devices. If you are meeting virtually, ask the participants to enable their video so they are more likely to pay attention and stay actively engaged. Throughout the meeting, be sure to ask questions and encourage feedback from participants.
It is so important that someone always takes notes for every single meeting. Designate someone to be the note-taker and make sure they include the following information:
* date and time of the meeting
* a copy of the agenda
*a summary of topics discussed
After the meeting be sure to store the notes in a sharing location such as Dropbox or Google Drive so employees can easily access them.
End with an Action Plan
Always leave the last few minutes of the meeting to discuss next steps. This is the time to decide who is responsible for what and what the deadlines are. Be very specific about your action plan and make sure everyone knows their role in accomplishing it.