Meetings - they can be super productive, but sometimes.... maybe not. Here are seven steps you can follow to make your meetings more productive and, yes, even enjoyable.
All for one....
The meeting that never ends, the meeting where everyone is on their phone, the meeting where Pam from Commercial won't stop talking, or the meeting where everyone is looking around wondering; "Why am I here?"
Meetings can consume a lot of valuable time during the working day, yet according to recent surveys, meetings are ranked by employees as the number one killer of productive time. That said, meetings can be extremely effective and leave employees energised and ready for action!
Try following these seven steps below to ensure an effective meeting.
1. Have a clear objective - There is no point in having a meeting if there is no clear objective and desired outcome. Consider what the meeting is trying to achieve; is it to brainstorm ideas? Make a decision? Share information? Planning? Be clear about the objective and ensure attendees are well informed.
2. Consider who is invited - It is important to ensure that the relevant attendees are invited to a meeting and also that there are no unnecessary attendees who will view the meeting as a waste of their time. Link this to the objective of the meeting, if a decision has to be made, ensure those with the power to make such a decision are present, if it is brainstorming, ensure those with the necessary skills are in attendance.
3. Send a meaningful invitation - A meeting invite should clearly state the subject, date, time and location of the meeting. A brief outline of the objective of the meeting is also essential. The invitation should also include any relevant documentation and detail any pre-work that is expected of participants.
4. Distribute the agenda - In order for a meeting to have structure and ensure the objective is met, an agenda is imperative. An agenda should be sent out well in advance of a meeting, so participants know what is expected and any pre-work that has to be completed. Ensure each agenda item has appropriate time assigned and refer to this, in order to stay focused during the meeting.
5. Test out technology - It is vital that all technology to be used in a meeting has been tested in advance. Arrive early and ensure everything is ready so the meeting can start on time. A meeting will be very inefficient and participants will lose interest, if time is wasted trying to get a presentation on screen or working out how to use the video conferencing facility.
6. Ensure good time keeping - Effective timekeeping will ensure a meeting stays on track. Work with the agenda and allotted times. If someone is monopolizing the conversation, don't be afraid to get them back on track. Politely say “We appreciate your contribution; however, we now need input from others.” This will establish ground rules early on and create an environment of respect for other peoples' time.
7. Take minutes/actions, distribute and follow up - Someone should be assigned to keep minutes and actions of the meeting. It is essential that these are distributed timely after the meeting, to ensure momentum and focus is not lost. Actions should be noted, assigned to a person and a deadline agreed within the meeting, so everyone is clear of their responsibilities. Actions should be reviewed at the end of the meeting for agreement. If the meeting is of an ongoing nature, then the meeting should open with previous action updates.
Meetings really can be an effective and productive use of time. The key is in good planning and meeting management to ensure achieving the desired outcome.
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