6 Steps To Better Meetings
I am sure you’ve all been there: you’re wasting another Friday afternoon at a meeting that has little or nothing to do with you. Since the majority of the room is in the same boat, so many side conversations are occurring that the speaker is barely audible. Phones are being checked in laps under the table (which the speaker can totally see, by the way)…mental trips to the weekend’s fun activities are being taken…eyes are fluttering and heads are bobbing as sleep tries to set in. What a waste of time, talent and energy. How much efficiency is lost in meetings? Do a rough calculation next time you are in a meeting of what everyone makes per hour and add it up. You may be shocked at how much “money” is being spent! If it is you who is responsible for the meeting, here are a few tips to help get a better return on your investment:
Have An Agenda
Send it a written agenda, with times attached to each topic and activity, and send it out ahead of time so people know what to bring and expect. Make sure the time blocks are adequate for the discussion.
Stick To The Schedule
Time is the most valuable resource you have, so start on time, end on time, and make sure the topics are discussed on time. Assign a timekeeper to be sure. You will be amazed at how focused and concise your team will become with a timer running. Side conversations and distractions will be much more limited.
Limit or Eliminate Distractions
Put away phones and computers unless they are essential to the discussion. Having to repeat information because of distractions like email and texts wastes time and infuriates the other participants. Also, close the door and be sure you have a gatekeeper that will not interrupt the meeting or allow others to do so except in extreme cases.
STAY ON TOPIC
The agenda is the map — follow it! If someone brings up a valuable but off-course topic, write it down for a follow-up later. A good idea for this is to make a “parking lot” – a flip-chart or white board where you can write off-topic items as they arise, and as off topic items come up, note them there. You can come back to them if time permits – IF they are relevant to everyone in the room – or you can assign them to another appropriate meeting.
Only discuss topics that involve everyone in the room. Other topics should be covered in one-on-one or smaller meetings with only the necessary people for each issue. The whole team should be engaged in every discussion!
Foster a culture of safety in the meetings.
Everyone should feel safe and encouraged to speak up, ask questions, and help solve problems. If not, you are losing part of the benefit of the collective minds.
Too often meetings are more about egos and individual agendas. Your team should look forward to meetings and leave them with a renewed sense of purpose and focus. There are definitely more ideas for running meetings efficiently, but these are a start.
The results you want are out there, let me help you find them.