Time is one resource that everyone could benefit from more of. Meetings can either be a productive and collaborative opportunity to help drive a business project forward or a time-eating event that can take over an employee’s workday, stifling progress. The common remark of “this meeting could have been an email” perpetuates this negative thinking even more. Here are five tips to make your team meetings more effective, maximizing the time in your workday:
Create a meeting agenda. An agenda is a few key bullet points that should be the main topics covered or takeaways from the time together. Noting timestamps will also ensure that your meeting runs on time. While there is no ideal length for a meeting, and the duration depends on the purpose of the meeting, 30 minutes is a good default. The longer the meeting, the harder it is to fit into someone’s schedule, and the more likely that focus will be lost.
Avoid scheduling back-to-back meetings. Avoid contiguous meetings whenever possible. This block of meetings will drain the attendees; who will retain less and less as time goes on. If long or contiguous meetings are unavoidable, schedule breaks to allow for lunch, bathroom breaks, refreshments, etc. We are all only human.
Be on time. The meeting start time is when the talking starts; not when you expect people to turn up. When you do begin, reiterate objectives, who’s leading the meeting, and who are taking the notes. On the other side of the coin, a late-running meeting can impact others’ schedules. If the meeting hasn’t produced the desired results, schedule another.
Engage the attendees. Making the meeting engaging draws the listeners’ interest; which will lead to satisfied participants and more information retained. Ask yourself: Is the presentation visually engaging? Could you cue music at appropriate times to raise energy levels? How can you encourage participation? Perhaps, with a poll?
Sum it up! End the meeting by restating the action items derived from the discussion and the unanswered questions that will be addressed in an email to follow up. To ensure this crucial step is completed, add it to your meeting agenda. This will prevent things from falling through the cracks and allow for true progress on an issue.
Meetings have become so ubiquitous in our work lives that a day hardly passes without one. These five tips for more effective meetings will have you maximizing your time, in no time.