Raise your hand if you have ever groaned inwardly after receiving a meeting invite. We’ve all experienced terrible meetings that make us just want to walk out of it. We have those that ramble off topic without the slightest concern about the time, those with no agenda, or having to wait more than 15 minutes for late comers. More often than not, we find meetings a complete waste of time because they are so poorly managed without a clear objective. If you are thinking that meetings are just meetings, think again! Poor meetings are a reflection of organisation leadership and can affect the morale of employees and the execution of projects. Like it or not, we can’t do without meetings. So how can we make the most out of it and have effective meetings?
Set An Agenda
Have you ever sat through a meeting that was a complete waste of your time? Attaching an agenda together with the meeting invite can help attendees prepare and understand what the meeting is about. If you need attendees to read up on materials or come up with ideas prior to the meeting, tell them! Nobody likes a surprise meeting. Give your meeting a purpose by making your objective clear. The agenda acts like a checkpoint for everyone to stay on track of the meeting. Everyone should be aware of the desired outcome and the roles they have to play during the meeting.
Have Small Meetings
Too many cooks spoil the broth. This is the same for meetings too! No doubt, we want to be inclusive. But having too many attendees will reduce the chances of having a meaningful conversation. Studies have shown that the most productive meetings only consist of five to eight people. This provides a good level of intimacy and debate (if any) while giving everyone enough time to share their perspectives. Before you send the invite, ensure that the topics discussed are relevant to the attendees. Don’t make them feel like their presence is unnecessary.
Stick To The Time
It’s already 6.30pm. The meeting was supposed to end an hour ago, yet there’s no sign of it ending anytime soon. You’re late for your dinner with friends for the nth time. Time is money and an additional hour of unproductive meetings could mean another hour of working over time. As a meeting host, it is your responsibility to lead and streamline the meeting. Start the meeting first, even if there are late attendees. Don’t penalise those who come on time. If you find that you are way behind the meeting agenda, steer the meeting to where it should be.
Establish Ground Rules
An effective meeting only happens when everyone is fully engaged and adding value to the meeting. Nothing’s worse than attendees being more engaged in their devices than your meeting. If you are conducting face to face meetings, get attendees to put away their phones and laptops (if it’s not required). Encourage attendees to be on time prior to the meeting. Let attendees know what is expected of them so that they can come prepared.
Ever left a meeting feeling more confused or unsure of the next steps? Spend a few minutes before the meeting ends to recap the key points. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and allows others to clarify any doubts they have. By the end of the meeting, everyone should be aware of their next steps and the deadlines they have to meet.
Running effective meetings go beyond just booking a time and place. It requires coordination to ensure that the meeting is effective and productive. Before you send a meeting invite, think about the objectives and the people involved in it. If it’s necessary, schedule it. If it’s not, perhaps an email or a quick chat at the desk can solve it.