Meetings are an effective way to share information and generate ideas. But as everyone knows, they can also be a waste of time and a terrible drain on morale and resources. With a little advance work and the willingness to stick to a schedule, it’s possible to conduct meetings that produce results. Here are tips for more effective meetings in your workplace.
1. Know why you’re having a meeting.
In some organizations, it’s common to hold meetings for no other reason than “That’s what we’ve always done.” Meetings without a purpose are what give this activity such a bad name. Before scheduling your next meeting, ask: What’s the intended goal? Do I need to see the entire team in person, or can I update everyone via email? It’s up to you to determine whether there’s value in meeting at all.
2. Know who should attend.
Another common practice is inviting many people to a meeting that’s meant only for a few. If the meeting isn’t relevant to an individual’s job or duties, leave him or her out. (This is why knowing a meeting’s purpose is so useful; it guides the selection of participants who can truly help achieve the intended goals.)
3. Distribute an agenda beforehand.
When people turn up cold for a meeting, a lot of time is wasted with introductory remarks and time-consuming explanations. In advance of the next meeting, send a detailed agenda to invited participants. Ask each attendee for a brief reply about each agenda item. This way, everyone involved has given some thought to the meeting; their responses can help shape the forthcoming discussion; and their feedback may indicate how much meeting time each item requires.
4. Make and enforce ground rules.
When a discussion gets bogged down and no one steps in to intervene, the meeting is wasted. Prevent this by taking a few simple measures:
- Include an allotted time-schedule for each item on the final meeting.
- Allow participants to respond to each agenda item without interruption.
- Let people know the leader of the meeting (you) will intervene if the discussion gets sidetracked or things get too heated.
5. Get serious about the time.
Never start a meeting late. This sends the message you’re not serious about how long things will take (and encourages chronic latecomers not to change their ways). Appoint a time-keeper to monitor the schedule. This helps focus the discussion and demonstrates your intent to keep the meetings short and productive.
6. Produce action steps and meeting notes.
Every meeting should close with a recap of the discussion and assignment of key action steps. Attendees should leave the meeting with a clear understanding of their specific responsibilities.
In a day or two, send out meeting notes (including what’s been decided and who takes the next steps) to each participant. This document serves as a record for what took place at the meeting and as a valuable road-map for future action.
The Proactive Approach
Productive meetings don’t just happen. They require preparation and follow-through to generate results. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of people sitting around talking—which is rarely helpful for a growing business.
If you’re ready to ready to grow as a leader and actively inspire the people who work for you, join other CEOs, managers and senior-level executives in a confidential group setting where you’ll be challenged and rewarded like never before in your professional life. Learn more about becoming a Catapult Group member today.