Meetings are essential part of every organization. They are a powerful tool yet widely taken for granted thus, your ability to run effective meetings
is a critical part of your success at work.
While the goal for any business is to hold effective meetings, just about every business owner and employee has a horror story of meetings gone terribly wrong. Many people share the frustration with meetings with mostly due to factors like approximately 50% of meeting time is wasted, 39% of people attending meetings doze off during the meeting, and meetings fill an increasing number of hours in the workday.
In any case, there are ways to run effective, efficient meetings that leave employees feeling excited and energized about their work. Here are 7 tips for a highly effective meeting:
- Begin with a Purpose: Have a Written Agenda in Advance
Vague intentions to have a discussion on a topic rarely end on a productive note. One of the most important tasks you need to do to hold more effective meetings, is to begin with an outline of the purpose. When everyone sits down, you have to say, “We are holding this meeting today to accomplish these goals and objectives.” If you are just getting started with agendas, start with a list of topics to be discussed and be sure that materials are provided to attendees at least a day before the meeting. For better results, provide background information on the agenda so that everyone attending has the same information. The opening five minutes in any meeting is the most important component to conducting more effective meetings because it sets the foundation and tells everybody in the room why they are there, for how long, and what they need to accomplish.
- Consider Who Is Invited: Review the Attendees List
The people in the meeting room make or break your effectiveness. When you’re calling a meeting, take time to think about who really needs to be there. The successful outcome of a meeting is directly dependent on the number of participants. Employees with no relevant role in the topic at hand can waste valuable time and resources. For meeting organizers, you should limit the number of people attending the meeting. For meeting attendees however, you should read the attendee list before you walk into the room. When people feel that what’s being discussed isn’t particularly relevant to them, or that they lack the expertise to be of assistance, they'll just view their attendance at the meeting as a complete waste of time.
- Stick to Your Schedule: Manage the Meeting by the Clock
Watching the clock is very important in an effective meeting. Create an agenda that lays out everything you plan to cover, along with a timeline that allots a certain number of minutes to each item, and email it to the attendees in advance. When nobody takes charge of managing time, it is easy to become careless, confused, and unfocused. Once you’re in the meeting, put the agenda up on a screen or whiteboard for the attendees to see. This will keep them focused. You must remember that when people attend a meeting, they cannot do anything else, so it is of utmost importance to make the time count!
- Summarize Your Point: Prepare Important Points and Decisions
A vital meeting management tip to learn is to summarize at the end of each discussion point and at the end of the meeting. Set out and summarize your time, schedules, implementation plan, and assignments. Then you can have everybody in the meeting agree easily on what has been decided. From time to time, major decisions will be discussed. It could be a decision on which projects to fund or which projects to let go. Serious decisions like this require the pre-wiring habit. In essence, you communicate with people one-on-one before the meeting about the decision occurs. This approach increases your chances of success albeit a bit time consuming.
- Press for Closure: Take No Hostages
Once you start talking about a subject, discuss it thoroughly but press for closure on what has been decided, before you go to the next item on the agenda. Nothing derails a meeting faster than one person talking more than his or her fair share. If you notice one person monopolizing the dialogue, call him or her out. The inability to keep on track and to press for closure are the two major time wasters and major complaints from people who attend non-effective and mismanaged meetings. Establishing ground rules early on will create a framework for how your group functions.
- Take Notes for Yourself: Keep a Record
Taking notes in meetings is an essential skill. The key reason to take notes in a meeting is to record any questions or assignments that have been directed to you. The art and science of note taking is a vital professional habit that also matters in the context of meetings. It’s quite common for people to come away from the same meeting with very different interpretations of what went on. If you happen to be an attendee, you should focus on the decisions made in the meeting and items that require further investigation or action on your part.
- Follow up on a Meeting
If you plan to send minutes or a summary of the meeting to the attendees, explain what you will include beforehand. Sending out meeting minutes, even a few paragraphs or bullet points, is a best practice. You need to distribute minutes from the meeting within 24 hours. The more important the decisions made during the meeting, the more you need to have them distributed in writing so that if the attendees have questions, they can easily get back to you. For very important matters, make a note on your calendar or task management tool of choice to continue following up until you reach a resolution.