Meetings seem to be an unavoidable part of everyone’s working experience. It’s the time when the team sits together, discusses all the issues that are going on, reviews the ongoing tasks, and plans the next steps.
In the recent poll on LinkedIn, we asked you about the changes in regards to meetings in your company. Most of you said that you have fewer and shorter meetings but there is also a big part of you who say that the meetings haven’t really changed.
On average people working in middle management spend 35% of their time in meetings. Meanwhile, people spend up to 4 hours per week with preparation for meetings. As you can see, that’s a lot of time invested in a meeting. That’s why we’re coming up with this article, where you can get more ideas on how to improve the meeting game in your company and you’ll get some tips on how to make the most of them.
Things to consider before doing a meeting
So, you’re planning to have another one of your regular meetings. But before you do that, you should consider a certain amount of things.
Firstly, don’t set meetings just for the sake of having them. Review the schedule that you currently have and analyze the effectiveness and the results of the meetings you have. It’s not cool or productive to try to act professional and busy just for the sake of having a made-up meeting without any real purpose.
Secondly, think about establishing a no-meeting day where the whole team can deeply focus on the big tasks without feeling interrupted. This can lead to better productivity levels. This way everyone will know when to plan to tackle the big tasks that require lots of time and energy without having to stop them and reserving time for a meeting.
Thirdly, it is vital not to make a spontaneous meeting without any fixed agenda or objectives that are going to be discussed in a meeting. Preparation is the key and without the right preparation, the meeting is going to end up as a waste of resources.
Things that can ruin an effective meeting
Let’s say that you went through the checklist above and decided that the meeting you’re about to have is really necessary and impossible to avoid. Be aware of the following things that can negatively impact its running.
One of the things is not inviting the right people to the meeting. Of course, you know your team and who’s working on what but try to review the agenda of the meeting and all the necessary people that should be there to participate. Maybe you’re there are a couple of people who don’t really have to be there.
Next, punctuality is essential. Even though it’s quite obvious, it is still important to mention it and make sure that it’s being followed. This is one of the worst ways how to lose valuable time on something easily avoidable.
The next point is in regard to the time and place of the meeting. Are you setting up a meeting in the last hours of work on Friday to catch up before the next week? It’s probably not the best idea. People are not able to focus anymore and their mind is all over the place. Try scheduling the meetings earlier during a day when people are full of energy and possibly haven’t tackled much of their daily tasks so they are not disrupted from doing something important.
Preparation for the meeting is a topic on its own. Both the preparation of the narrator of the meeting and those invited to it. This is one of the ways how you can maximize the outcome of the meeting and it’s the key to having a meaningful discussion. That’s why it’s important to come up with a clear agenda beforehand and distribute it among others so people don’t come to the meeting clueless.
Lastly, after the meeting, another mistake is not going through what happened in the meeting and not making a follow-up. This way everything that happened at the meeting is kind of lost and therefore its purpose is lost as well.
How to run an effective meeting
Now that you read a summary of what not to do during meetings and what to consider before having them, let’s talk about how to make the most of them.
First things first, it is crucial to have a clear agenda, goals, and purpose for the meeting. It will make a huge difference in the whole direction of the meeting and also you will save yourself valuable time.
Another thing related to time management is not only planning the content of the meeting, but also the meeting itself. Plan it ahead and try avoiding last-minute changes of plans with an unexpected meeting for your team. This may disrupt their work plans and have a negative impact on their productivity levels.
The next thing and a pretty obvious one is sticking to the schedule. It’s very important to make sure that you start and finish on time so it doesn’t interfere with another program. Try not to exceed the time limit scheduled for the meeting and put energy into communicating how important it is for everyone to come on time.
Once everyone has joined the meeting, start with the most important things first. Just make sure that the reason why the meeting was called will be also fulfilled. There’s nothing worse than leaving a meeting after spending a considerable time and energy on it but not even getting to the point. Not just that, but also at the beginning of a meeting everyone still has enough energy and focus. That’s why you should take advantage of it and start with the ‘big fish’.
Continuing within the frame of timing, consider adjusting the duration of your existing meetings. Is there something that can be cut down or removed completely? By doing this review and certain adjustments, you can really make the most out of meetings’ effectiveness.
Another approach you can take in the preparation for the meeting is to assign roles to the people. Spread the responsibility among others and this way you will have less on your plate plus this way it will be more engaging for others as well. One person can be for example a note taker and another time checker. Others can be a moderator who makes sure that all points written in the agenda have been covered.
A similar approach is to divide the sections among more people. You can do it based on their department or their role or anything similar. This way the audience will have more speakers so it is easier to maintain their focus.
Once the meeting is coming to an end and everything has been covered, it is necessary to finish with clear action steps for the next meeting. These have to have a clear deadline and an assigned responsible person. Before that make sure that everyone understands what is going on and investigate if there are any unanswered questions.
After the meeting send a follow-up of any main points that were discussed in the meeting, together with the goals to be achieved by the following one.
As mentioned above, meetings are an unavoidable part of your work. Now, at least thanks to the tips mentioned above you can make the most of them and improve your meeting game at your company.