How many hours do you spend in meetings each week?
How effective is that time?
Do your meetings run to time or drag on?
Is the agenda adhered to?
We all spend time in meetings but often don’t reflect on how effective they are. By adopting a few easy steps we can make our meetings more effective & use our time more efficiently.
- What’s the purpose of this meeting? Ask yourself “Why are we holding this meeting?” That may seem like stating the obvious but you would be surprised how many meetings take place without anyone really being clear about the reason why.
- Have an agenda. Having a meeting without an agenda is like turning up at an airport not knowing what time your flight leaves or even if this is the right airport. You just hang around and hope that something useful turns up.
- Start and end on time. Be ruthless about starting dead on time. Don’t reward latecomers by giving them a summary of what has happened so far – they are late – the rest of you were on time. Your time is just as precious as anybody else’s.
- Only address the topics on the Agenda. So many meetings go off course and over run because someone introduces a topic that wasn’t on the Agenda. If it is really important then it can go at the end but with a strict time limit. If it needs longer than that then another meeting needs to be arranged.
- Deal with the most important issue first. People’s attention and enthusiasm drops really quickly and even if the most important issue is not the most interesting issue then at least you are likely to have a reasonable level of attention if it is dealt with first.
- Appoint someone to Chair the meeting well. This does not have to be the most senior person there – it is a good activity for someone’s development, provided they have been coached in what to do.
- Most meetings only need a record of actions agreed. For most meetings the only record that is needed is a note of the topics discussed, actions agreed, by whom and by when. Unless the meeting is formal and there is a constitution attached forget about Minutes, who said what etc.
- Be prepared. You may not be the one organising the meeting but you should prepare beforehand. Have you read & acted on the actions from the previous meeting? Have you read the agenda & considered what will be discussed? It may seem obvious but I’ve known people just rock up to a meeting without having done any preparation. This can lead to wasted time.
Meetings are the lifeblood of an organisation. Without them we could not function efficiently. They are essential for good communication and give individuals a sense of belonging. For these reasons we shouldn’t avoid meetings. What has to be avoided at all costs are unproductive and time wasting events that give meetings a bad name.
Some organisations conduct meetings standing up so that they don’t drag on & keep to the point. Would this work in your business?
So, over the course of this week, just reflect on the meetings you attend & whether your meetings could be more effective through adopting these steps.