7 Easy Ways to Have More Efficient Meetings at Work
If you’ve ever come out of a meeting thinking you’ve just wasted an hour of your life, you’re not alone. Badly-run meetings are one of the biggest gripes employees at all levels have.
The good news is there are a few simple things you can do to make sure your meetings run as efficiently as possible. The first point to consider is whether a meeting is required at all – if you can get what needs to be done by popping into someone’s office and having a quick chat all the better.
Once you’ve decided a meeting is on the cards, however, you should follow these simple rules:
1. Have a Clear Objective
The worst meetings are ones where there are too many things on the agenda. It’s much better to have one or two clear objectives that you want to discuss. The more focused you keep this, the likelier you are to reach a decision, get something actioned or get the information you want.
2. Choose Participants Carefully
Identify who needs to attend the meeting and invite them and only them. They’re the ones who are going to help make decisions or provide valuable information. The worst thing you can do is invite people who will be sat wondering why they are there. It’s a waste of their time and they could be doing something far more productive.
3. Create an Agenda
What do you want to discuss and in what order? It’s always a good idea to create an agenda as a roadmap for what you want to talk about in the meeting. It also means that people know implicitly why they are there and what work they should do to prepare. The big key, however, is to stick to the agenda. Unfortunately, that can be the most difficult part. If you want to keep people focused, put it up on the whiteboard or screen in your meeting room so everyone can see it.
4. Have Some Ground Rules for All Meetings
It’s always useful to have a few rules regarding meetings so everyone knows where they stand. That could include:
- Arriving on time or not getting entry to the meeting if late.
- Having a set time limit for each agenda item.
- Switching off mobile devices so they don’t interrupt the flow.
These ground rules don’t need to be too draconian but they should all facilitate the smooth running of the meeting.
5. Don’t Go Off-Piste
There are two things that can derail a meeting. One is a contributor who hogs the limelight and takes up too much time. Another is someone bringing up something that wasn’t in the original agenda. That means you need to be firm in your approach and even cut in if things are going off message. Another problem occurs when one part of the agenda takes longer than expected. Conversations in meetings can often go around in circles and it’s your job to make sure things stay on track.
6. Starting and Finishing
Set a time for your meeting and make sure you finish on time. If it’s half an hour, take just half an hour. One way to make sure your invitees are going to get through the agenda on time is to hold your meeting later in the day when everyone might be thinking about heading home – it’s amazing how this focuses the mind. Shorter meetings tend to be more productive because they focus the mind. Try not to have one that lasts more than an hour – longer than this and attendees will probably start to lose concentration.
7. Follow Up
Most meetings end with plans of action which need to be implemented. There’s no point in having one unless you are going to follow up later. People can also get the wrong impression and may need certain things clarified. The easiest way to follow up is to send out an email with a brief description of what was achieved and agreed at the meeting including tasks and deadlines. That way you can be sure everyone is heading in the same direction.
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