This is How Smart People Run Great Meetings at the Office
So by now you’ve impatiently glanced at your watch for the fifth time in the last 20 minutes. Your colleague sitting next to you is fixated on the clock on the wall. At the end of the meeting table, two alpha males are having a pointless, totally off the wall argument trying to prove which one has a bigger … obnoxious personality. And every other person around the table is having second thoughts about their career choices. Yes, once again you’re stuck in a meeting from Hell. You wonder if a tight, well run and productive meeting even exists at your company? You know, the kind of great 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?
These are the great meetings that you and your co-workers actually enjoy attending because of how productive they are and they don’t feel like time spent in high school detention. If your answer to the question above is no, then it is time that you become the superstar of running great meetings at your company. Those “can’t miss” affairs most meeting-goers can only dream about.
Meetings are sometimes called necessary evils at work because the bad ones outnumber the good ones … sometimes by a lot.
- Attendees have no clue why they are there or what the meeting is about
- People straggle in late
- The agenda is unclear (or nonexistent)
- If there is an agenda, not everyone attending the meeting got it
- The meeting starts 10 minutes late while everyone waits for foot-draggers to arrive
- It’s constantly derailed and off topic
- It always runs too long
- Eventually, everyone checks out mentally, looking at their phones or tablets for messages
- When it ends, attendees know nothing new from when they came into the meeting room two hours earlier (other than it was two hours of their lives they will 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 seven tricks you can use to create great meetings:
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 …
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.
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.
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. If it’s your meeting and you run late, make a sincere apology to everyone for wasting their time.
Great meetings 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.
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.
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.