Do you look around and think your employees or colleagues are bored in your meetings? Are you, perhaps, bored yourself? If this sounds familiar, your meetings are unproductive, and you and your employees would be better off getting work done, rather than meeting. Though meetings ranked as the number one office productivity killer, according to a survey of U.S. professionals by Salary.com, meetings are important in every business and necessary to get tasks accomplished. Learning how to conduct effective meetings will change the way work gets done in your business. Your employees will look forward to their meetings and leave feeling excited about the progress. With a little planning, leadership, and monitoring, meetings can be both effective and enjoyable.
Planning the Meeting
When initially planning your meetings, consider the following:
What is the objective of the meeting? What do you, specifically, want to get done? What’s your goal? Make the objective of the meeting clear not only to yourself, but to the employees invited, so all can come prepared.
Who is invited, and is it necessary for them to be there? Don’t invite anyone who isn’t directly involved in the meeting objective. Take the time to think about who really needs to be there and once you invite those who do, assign them any tasks they should have prepared ahead of time. By inviting people who aren’t directly involved, they’ll feel it’s a waste of time and bring the morale within the meeting down.
Do you have an agenda? Doing a bit of work ahead of time will guarantee a productive meeting. Create a detailed agenda with everything you plan to discuss and a timeline for each topic. It’s best if you email the agenda to the attendees ahead of time, and then either print one for each person or put it on a screen for others to see at the meeting.
Procedures to Follow During the Meeting
Now it’s time to ensure your meeting goes according to the plan you created. Follow these tips for the best results:
Stick to the agenda. Sticking to your agenda eliminates spin-offs and side conversations. It’s best if you appoint one person in the meeting to bring everyone back on topic if a sidetrack occurs. Other topics are bound to come up during your discussion, but now’s not the time to dig into them. Create a “parking lot” on a sheet of paper and add any topics to be discussed (possibly at another meeting) to your list.
Don’t let the meeting be hijacked by one person. Purposely or not, some meetings tend to be only one person speaking, with no input from the other attendees. You want to avoid this at all cost. Make sure each member feels like they have a say, and you’ll get the best ideas and action items that way.
Pay attention to the time. The last thing your attendees want is to get stuck in a meeting all day, even if it is going well. Employees have other tasks to accomplish and are bound to be bothered if you aren’t respecting their time.
Don’t use technology during the meeting. It’s best to let all attendees know at the beginning of the meeting that their phones, tablets, and computers should be put away. Encourage people to print important documents ahead of time (one copy per person), so everyone can follow along on paper and not be distracted by their device. If a lot of notes must be taken, it’s okay to let one person use a computer, but make sure no one else is.
Follow Up After the Meeting
The most productive meetings don’t end when the actual meeting is finished. For the work discussed to get finished, follow up with your attendees with meeting notes, action items, and timelines. Check in with everyone every few days or once a week to ensure employees are taking the work seriously. Do this, and you’ll get the best results!
Planning an effective meeting ahead of time will change the result and productivity of each meeting you hold. You’ll get employees excited, and the goals you discussed at your meetings will be achieved. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to your most effective meeting yet.