Our time is precious and none of us have time to waste it in meetings that don’t achieve anything.
So how do you make your meetings count? How do you keep on track and achieve the outcome you want? As with most things, following a few simple rules will help you have better meetings.
Have an agenda
What is the purpose of the meeting? What outcomes do you need to achieve? How long will it take? Schedule the meeting time to fit the agenda, plus a little time for diversions and AOB, but don’t make it longer than it needs to be. Create an agenda and send it out to attendees in advance. At the beginning of the meeting ask if anyone wants to add anything. Then stick to it like glue.
Before the meeting, make sure you are clear who needs to attend and who is optional, without key people your meeting won’t be so productive. Once in the meeting take time to introduce yourself and make sure others do as well. It’s important to know who you are speaking with and also what role they have in the company.
You need a leader
This doesn’t have to be the boss, or even someone in authority. You could take it in turns. Having one person responsible for managing timekeeping and staying on the agenda will make a big difference. This person only has to say “oops, we’ve gone off on a tangent, let’s get back on track”. Trust me, people won’t complain if it is done politely, they know it is the right thing to do.
Capture actions throughout the meeting, before anything can be forgotten. Each action needs an owner. Nominate one person to record the actions. Again, this is a task that you could take in turns so one person doesn’t get stuck doing it every time. They should also record any ideas or comments to be picked up later or discussed outside the meeting. This will really help keep you focused on the agenda items.
Let everyone contribute
The purpose of a meeting should be to share ideas and information. Everyone who is invited is there because they have something to contribute. Encourage participation. Don’t let one person dominate the meeting, everyone’s views are valid, keep an open mind and listen to all participants. It’s ok to disagree but do it with respect.
Ideally all mobile phones would be switched off and out of sight. If someone needs to keep an eye on their phone at least ask them to be considerate.
Allow time for breaks
If the meeting is going to be longer than a couple of hours, allow time for breaks. People will become unproductive if they can’t stretch their legs or get a drink.
“When I have meetings scheduled so tight that I can’t go to the loo, that’s where I draw the line!” Christian Louboutin
A few more tips for virtual meetings
There are so many brilliant virtual meeting tools available, Zoom, WebEx, Skype etc. that you may never have to leave your house to attend a meeting. It’s not the same as meeting in person but with video and screen sharing it’s the next best thing. Especially if you haven’t met before, being able to make eye contact and smile will build rapport much more quickly.
All the normal rules still apply. Here are a few extra to consider:
- Plan to be somewhere quiet and in the office as any background noise will disturb others on the webinar.
- Make sure you have a good internet connection.
- Think about your background if using video. Best not to be working from home in your pyjamas.
- Test your computer video and audio functions before the call and make sure you know how the application works.
- Get a drink, pen and paper and be ready to dial into the call about 5 minutes early, it may take longer than you think to connect to the call.
Some options to try
So next time you are hosting or attending a meeting, set it up for success at the start. The other attendees will thank you for it.
If you need help creating a meeting agenda or minutes template, Contact me.