Let’s face it, meetings aren’t everyone’s thing. It’s easy for a meeting to get off track, start late and or miss its goal entirely if it’s not managed effectively. There are, however, many simple ways to keep your meetings on track and accomplish essential business goals.
Here are seven steps to hold more productive meetings.
1. Only the People Who Absolutely Need to be in Meeting Should be There
Make sure you invite the people you need to attend. Nothing’s worse than having to pause a meeting to go and find the person that knows the answer to a question that’s come up in the discussion. On the other hand, if someone doesn’t need to be there, let them know that it’s OK to leave. It can hurt morale and waste everyone’s time. People that don’t need to be there can become distractions.
2. Outline an Agenda Well Before the Meeting Starts
It only takes a few minutes to send off an email or note with a quick agenda of what you’d like the meeting to accomplish. Doing so is also a great way to make sure attendees have or prepare the necessary information needed to make the meeting a success. Is the meeting a transfer of information, a brainstorming session, or to gather input for a critical business decision? Making sure all attendees know what the goal is and, if possible, highlight essential agenda items that are directly related to the purpose of the meeting.
3. If Someone Needs to Bring Something, Make Sure They Know in Advance
Make sure people know if they need to have research done ahead of the meeting or support material they will have to have on hand. That can save you from having to have yet another meeting down the road! If you are in a rented conference room, it can save you the cost of doing it over again. Put the materials needed on the agenda and hold people accountable for doing the groundwork before the meeting.
4. Choose An Environment That Inspires Creativity and Performance
Holding a meeting at your business or the usual conference room can allow for complacency. It’s easier to wait until the last minute or get distracted. If you are stuck meeting in the same old place, mix things up by re-arranging the room or forcing people to sit in different seats. Consider renting a conference room off-site. It sends a message that this is an important meeting, and can present a more professional image to those you are meeting.
5. Check your technical specifications
One advantage of a rented conference room is that you will have whatever tech you need available for your meeting. Whether it is a whiteboard, video conferencing, phone conferencing, or presentations, you just have to ask to have the tech ready to go when you arrive. If remote employees are joining, make sure they have the technology they need to be involved (video/phone conferencing, Internet connection).
6. Watch the Clock
Start the meeting as scheduled. While this might sound simple, too much time is wasted when you’re waiting for others to show up. It’s unprofessional and sends a wrong message. Starting on time shows your respect for others and their time. Starting late because someone’s absent is unfair to those that have arrived on time and doing so regularly tells others that it’s OK to be late.
7. Do You Need a Follow-up?
Watching the clock also means respecting the work others have to do over the remainder of the day. That means keeping things moving and sticking to your agenda. If possible, end early. When time’s up if you haven’t met your goal, schedule a follow-up meeting to continue the discussion. Assuming you’ve achieved your goals, let the team know and outline next steps, create assignments and establish deadlines.
Leading effective meetings doesn’t need to be complicated. Sticking to a few simple strategies will help your meetings be more productive, keep your team focused, and encourage them to work collaboratively toward a common goal.