Meetings are vital for successful business management. Meetings boost the productivity and efficiency of your business operations. When meetings are done right, plans and deals get made on everything from business strategy to product development. However, when done wrong, meetings can be unproductive, time-wasters and money-waters. Most of us are not formally trained for effective meeting management, but you can do it well by keeping in mind the following tips and strategies.
- Create and Share Agenda
The first principle of running an effective meeting is to set a clear aim. Meetings should never be held for the sake of sharing information – for that you can always use group chats, emails, and company intranets. Meetings should only be used when you need collaborative inputs from others.
A meeting’s purpose can be about making decisions, planning strategies, solving problems, setting goals, etc. It is also important that you send this agenda along with your invitation so that the invitees get to know why they need to attend the meeting and can prepare for their contribution beforehand.
- Start and End on Time
Many meetings are scheduled for 30 minutes but are only 21 to 26 minutes long because of the late arrivals. Research has shown that in companies with over 250 people, 40% of meetings start late.
The annoyance that grows while waiting for people who are habitually late can unfavorably impact the meeting itself. This may result in more interruption, decreased team spirit, and lesser ideas. The only solution is to start the meeting the minute it’s scheduled to begin, even if everyone hasn’t arrived.
- Plan Your Meeting Beforehand
Detailed planning is the key to effective meeting management. Apart from setting an agenda, there are many things you need to consider before you start the meeting. You can start by assigning roles to participants. E.g. facilitator and a dedicated note-taker.
Brief the attendees in advance regarding certain topics they each will address so that they can come into the meeting well versed in their material and can hash out issues beforehand.
- Encourage Participation
When people have more pressing work to do, they would be tempted to multi-task, which is proved less-effective and also causes stress, so stop multitasking. Also, try not to schedule your meeting during someone else’s lunch hour or when they’d be otherwise signing off for the day.
Another way to ensure maximum engagement is to switch up the presenters. It refreshes people’s attention span and encourages attendees to feel ownership over a certain topic.
- Stick to the Agenda
Sometimes people tend to go off telling stories not related to the discussed topic. Nothing frustrates the busy participants like such a discourse of the meeting. It becomes easy to deviate if someone is not keeping track of the course of the discussion.
Hence, someone should take responsibility for bringing back the focus on the stated agenda because a clear focus makes it easier to conclude the meeting with actionable steps.
- Keep it Short
In every meeting, there comes a point when your team’s attention begins to falter since there builds up a lot of information to be processed. Short and frequent meetings are essential for improving your team’s efficiency.
During meetings, the longest time participants can remain truly engaged is 52 minutes. Also, people tend to deviate from the agendas and the meeting lasts longer most of the time. So it would be wise to not let people deviate from the set agenda and end the meeting once the discussion is over.
- Follow Up
Follow-ups ensure that people leave your meeting with clarity and purpose. An effective meeting produces actionable and sharable results. Conclude the meeting by documenting and sharing notes that include the responsibility given, tasks delegated, and any assigned deadlines. That way, all the attendees would be on the same page. Also, consider sending out a feedback form to your team soon after the meeting ends to gauge how effective the meeting was.
Running an effective meeting may feel difficult to carry out. Although, by following the steps listed above, you can host effective meetings that leave everyone feeling motivated to do more.