Around the world, millions of meetings are being held everyday – most of them unproductive. This is a waste of time and effort for all involved. To increase efficiency, first think about if a meeting is necessary or appropriate for the problem. You can then consider the events before, during and after to make your meeting as productive and useful as possible.
Is a meeting needed?
A meeting for meeting’s sake is unlikely to be productive. Before you call a meeting, or arrange a reoccurring meeting, think about if there is new news or any updates. No new news? Consider cancelling the meeting. Some problems can be solved without a meeting:
- Do you need a question answered? PHONE CALL
- Are there difficult/sensitive issues? MEET ONE TO ONE
Determine the structure and purpose:
- What is the objective?
- Who needs to attend?
- How much time is needed?
- What preparation will help?
- What is your role?
Communicate in advance:
- Develop a written agenda – assigning owners to each item
- Send agenda and supporting materials in advance
- Set expectations for attendance
- Set context/framing for meeting – tell people why the meeting is being held
- Start and finish on time
- Assign a note taker and time keeper
- Provide context for meeting – again remind people why the meeting is being held
- Manage the discussion
– Making an ask of people? Do it early, and be specific
– Off-topic ideas coming up? Bring people back to the agenda
– People talking too long? Set time limits
– Want attendees to stay engaged? Use active listening strategies and keep it interactive
– Want attendees to feel invested in the outcome? Acknowledge their mind-sets and interests verbally
- Stick to the agenda
- Review next steps and establish accountability
- End early
- Send brief notes to both meeting attendees and those absent with – decisions made, and action items and owners
- Review what worked and what didn’t, and note that for next time
Most meetings can be made better. First, question if a meeting is even needed in the first place. Then follow the steps for the before, during and after to get the most out of you and your colleague’s time.
The content for this article was taken from The Advisory Board Company