How to Run “Can’t-Miss” Meetings at Work

Is there anyone at your work who puts together “can’t miss” meetings?  You know, the kind of meetings you never want to miss because they begin the moment they’re supposed to … are attended only by the people who need to be there … have crystal-clear agendas … and end the minute they are supposed to end?

But more important, these are the meetings that you and your co-workers actually enjoy going to because of how productive they are and how they don’t feel like time spent in high school detention? If your answer to the original question above is no, then it is time that you become the superstar of running “can’t miss” meetings at your company.

Meetings are sometimes called necessary evils at work because the bad ones usually outnumber the good ones … sometimes by a lot. And, bad meetings share the following characteristics:

  • Attendees had no clue why they were there or what the meeting was about
  • People straggled in late
  • The agenda was unclear (or nonexistent), and not everyone in attendance saw it
  • The meeting started 10 minutes late while everyone waited for foot-draggers to arrive
  • It was constantly derailed and went off topic
  • The soul-crushing meeting ran way too long
  • Eventually everyone checked out mentally, looking at their phones or tablets for messages
  • When it ended, they knew almost nothing new from when they came into the meeting room two hours earlier (other than that was two hours of their lives they would never get back)

The truth is that meetings are essential to ensure business is good and projects are running smooth. The best-run meetings utilize practical time management techniques to keep them on track. Techniques that are insanely easy to use!

Let’s take a look at some efficiency tricks you can start using to keep your meetings productive and “can’t miss”:

  1. Only invite the people who need to be there

    “I really think Bob could have cut down on the number of people he invited to this meeting.”

This may seem to be a bit of a “No kidding!” situation, but people in charge of meetings don’t want to get caught not knowing an answer to a question. So they err on the side of inviting everyone remotely involved to attend. Of course, the easiest way to know exactly what will come up in a meeting is to …

  1. Distribute an agenda

Create an agenda and make sure everyone gets it in plenty of time before the meeting. Save people time and send out the appropriate meeting materials in an email. Supplying an agenda will help keep the meeting on task and show people the importance and order of items up for discussion. With a set schedule, co-workers will prepare for the information and be ready to chime in when needed.

  1. Ask them to silence or turn off smart phones and tablets

Unless they need their device to contribute to the meeting or have a spouse ready to give birth at any second, professional courtesy dictates that they turn off their electronics for a little while. By silencing or powering off these tools, employees can better follow the meeting topics and presenters can stay on track without interruptions.

  1. Start exactly on time, no matter who is late

If your meeting begins at 10 a.m., then start it at 10 a.m. on the dot, even if someone is running late. Soon enough, you’ll have the reputation of being someone who doesn’t waste time … yours or theirs. In addition, since it’s embarrassing to walk into a meeting late, latecomers will make a concerted effort to be there early the next time.

  1. No meeting should ever take more than 30 minutes to an hour

People are busy and once a meeting goes past about 45 minutes, they’re no longer concentrating on what’s going on in the meeting room. A good rule of thumb is to figure out how much time you’ll need for the meeting and then cut it in half. It sounds drastic, but the efficiency you reach when the clock is ticking is amazing. If you have a good agenda and eliminate distractions, you shouldn’t have a problem with the shorter time. Or, if you truly believe you need more than an hour, go through your agenda with a fine-tooth comb and see if there is anything you can take out. Break the meeting into two parts on separate days if you must.

  1. Make sure there is time for participation to ensure comprehension

Studies show that people remember about 10 percent of what they read and 20 percent of what they hear. However, they retain a whopping 90 percent of what they see, hear, say and do. So while simply presenting your material without asking or taking questions may seem efficient, it’s definitely not effective. Plus, participation adds to the attractiveness and “can’t miss” aspect of your meetings.

  1. Always, always, always follow up

Once your meeting concludes, especially ones that had good interaction from participants, you must send an email that provides a review of the material covered and any follow-up action decided during the meeting. This saves people a lot of time, as it eliminates the need to repeatedly approach you for the information again.

So there you have it. To become a meeting guru send out an agenda, minimize the number of people involved, eliminate distractions and interruptions and always follow up afterwards. Do it and you’ll be having “can’t miss” meetings every time.

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