Many people don’t like meetings, it won’t be surprising if you don’t too. They tend to be too long, filled with rituals that don’t make any sense and end without the goals accomplished.
But meetings don’t have to be boring, you should achieve something at your meetings, they should help produce lots of ideas and resolve current problems.
Here are 13 ways to make your meetings more effective:
Can the meeting be accomplished (faster) with an email? I’ve worked in a wide variety of company verticals and sizes and it’s easy to become a ‘meeting-heavy’ culture with meeting after meeting just for the sake of having a meeting.
Sometimes all you need is a quick email exchange to arrive at a solution.
Remember you need time to work on your other projects at work so wasting time on an unnecessary meeting is extremely counterproductive.
Meetings should be your last option when you think physical presence would really be important. People value their time and you should too.
You’ll achieve a lot more with your meetings if they hold when people are in a productive mindset. That means trying to avoid scheduling a meeting at the end of the day’s work where most people are “switched off” and just want their space to recharge.
Don’t call a meeting too early in the morning where people aren’t yet in the flow or before and during lunch hour. Hungry people don’t provide articulate views.
So go for the high-energy periods outside these ones to make your meetings more effective.
If you’re going to be having successful meetings, then you don’t need to invite everyone. Invite only those who understand the purpose of a meeting and can contribute to it.
And, if a decision is to be made, make sure the decision maker is in the room!
When the goal is to walk away with a decision or path forward, the mantra of ‘getting everyone’s buy-in’ can often be counter-productive to achieving the goal. In this case, limiting the attendees is the right path.
Don’t have a meeting without an agenda, it makes everyone ramble about without actually attacking the goals of the meeting.
Your agenda should include the names of others in the meeting, the materials that would be considered and topics you’d like discussed with clear goals to achieve.
The time the meeting starts and stops should also be included, it helps so people can convey their message while being conscious of time. And so everyone sticks to the plan, you can put the agenda on a big screen for all to see.
Make them want to attend, make them look forward to the meeting. Offer incentives that make people honor the meeting and on time too. If some people are early, while others just don’t care and are late, it affects the flow.
But you don’t need to do anything extraordinary, food and drinks are usually enough to get people want to come, they’ll likely get worn out at the end of the meeting so that’s a good offer to provide.
And of course, no surprises, make it clear in the agenda that there will be refreshments.
Choose rooms that make everyone comfortable so that people will be able to contribute in a relaxed atmosphere. Use bright rooms and use appropriate lighting to improve them.
And allow for adequate spacing so people don’t interrupt the meeting while trying to leave or get to their seats.
Many people consider every phone call to be necessary so you should let attendees know making or answering phone calls while the meeting is on isn’t allowed.
You should also advise against other distractions like checking emails and social media except such actions contribute to the success of the meeting.
The longer a meeting persists, the more people get bored and lose interest in the discussions. Let your meetings not be more than an hour.
Try to get as much done within that short time and yes, it’s okay to postpone some things to a later date when you’ll be able to handle them.
You should also try not to present too many problems that require extensive discussion and if something can be resolved in five minutes or even without the meeting, get it done.
Do your research on the topics you’ll be handling during the meeting, try to get the details that’ll help you achieve success before the meeting. Fact-finding and other forms of research while the meeting is on kills energy that would have been invested in other things.
Be familiar with the agenda so you’ll know when to move from item A to B.
Seriously, it’s boring and you know it.
It’s okay to summarize the points on the slide and relate them to the ideas you’re trying to get across, but reading word-for-word from a slide everyone can read for themselves wastes valuable time.
You should spend more time explaining how the data on the slides help the goals of the meeting and how it relates to achieving the goal.
If it’s just you or another person speaking the whole time, you’re not having a meeting, you’re dishing out instructions and you don’t need to call a meeting to do that.
The ideal meeting format is one that’s interactive where everyone gets to participate.
That’s a better format because you’ll get diverse views and different ways in which you can solve a problem.
If people are speaking without addressing the issues on the agenda, it’s okay to point them to the plan and insist that they stay on point.
One meeting can’t possibly handle all the issues in a company but if all the problems are brought up in that or every other meeting, nothing gets solved and that’s not an effective meeting.
If anyone is trying to introduce topics that are alien to the agenda, tell them that another meeting can always be arranged to deal with those issues.
To know if you’ve just had an effective meeting, there’s always something for everyone to do at the end.
There’s always a next step that each attendee has to take so progress can be measured in the next meeting.
Do a recap so people will look at what’s been done and what has to be done.
Also published on Medium.