Everyone loves to hate meetings. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Whether you’re convening them or attending them, how do you generally feel when a work meeting is over? Do you think that the meeting:
- Went on too long?
- Didn’t follow any kind of agenda?
- Didn’t accomplish anything?
- Was hijacked by one or more participants?
What a waste of time is a common meme around offices these days.
Whether it’s the weekly sales meeting or a brainstorming session or a problem-solving gathering, you can make your meetings more effective.
Reverse your thinking about the conclusion of a meeting. Often, the leader will ask what was accomplished, and will be met with a number of different perceptions about what did and didn’t get done. Everyone heard different things more loudly than others.
Instead, set your meeting’s objective in stone. Are you:
- Making a decision? Have you determined a mechanism for doing so? How will you know when you’ve decided? You might consider polling participants at the beginning of the meeting and then evaluating the options in turn before taking a final vote or using whatever method you choose to nail down the final outcome.
- Generating ideas? To avoid hosting a free-for-all or a meeting where no one speaks up because there’s a crowd, consider keeping brainstorming sessions fairly small. Yes, more people might result in more suggestions scrawled on a whiteboard or someone’s iPad. If you don’t come up with enough (or enough good ones), you could send the list out to a larger circle and ask for additions.
- Planning for an upcoming conference or other event? The larger the occasion, the more focused your meetings need to be. Take your master list and break it down into manageable chunks.
- Reporting on department or project progress? This may take more facilitating on your part than some types of meetings do. You want to hear from everyone, and you want to give all participants a chance to toot their own horns – or deliver bad news.
Someone might say, Well, we didn’t exactly follow the agenda, but look at the unrelated stuff we talked about. That has value, too, doesn’t it?
It does – if what you planned was a meeting that meandered all over the place. When individuals go off-topic, assign one person to take note of the concerns and return to the topic at hand. Evaluate the items on the list later and determine if/how they need to be addressed.
Be Ruthless About Start and Stop Times
Enough said. If a meeting attended by six people runs 10 minutes over, that’s actually an hour of company work time gone.
Everyone Hates Mondays
Monday meetings may not be as effective as Tuesday afternoon meetings. Give employees time to catch up on their duties after the weekend. In fact, one study concluded that you’d be most likely to have perfect attendance at 3 p.m. Tuesday meetings.
These days, companies save enormously on travel costs by hosting virtual meetings via Google Hangouts or WebEx, for example. Many staffs are spread around various corners of the globe, too. Same rules should apply, with one additional one: Ask participants to make sure that their technology setup is working before the meeting’s start time.
All manner of things can occur to throw your carefully-made meeting plans out of whack. But working toward controlling what you can is likely to minimize the grumbling from your staff.
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