We’ve all endured brutally long and pointless meetings. Yet meetings are crucial to a company’s success, providing an opportunity to share intelligence and collaborate.
Follow these five steps to ensure that your meetings are efficient, as well as beneficial to the bottom line.
1. Advance planning. Set the tone for the meeting up front, clarifying your expectations. Know your goals and desired outcome for the meeting. (Sometimes, this process reveals that a meeting is unwarranted and an email will actually suffice.) Only include those who are essential to the discussion, and deliver the agenda to them 24 to 48 hours in advance. If there’s any material that attendees need to review prior, distribute that as well. Don’t hesitate to include in your subject line: MUST READ PRIOR.
2. Time. Leaders are punctual, so begin on time. Everyone should be settled and ready to go, not drifting in. Do not reward latecomers by catching them up, but rather tell them to get what they need from someone following. Also, if it’s going to be a short meeting, make it a “standing meeting” to keep the energy high.
3. Stay focused. Have a moderator or timer to keep the meeting on track. Keep meeting hogs to a minimum by explaining to your team the difference between adding value to the discussion and simply being repetitive.
4. Invite discussion. Make sure everyone has an opportunity to be heard. You may need to draw out some participants by saying, “We haven’t heard your insight yet and would like your opinion. What are your thoughts?” On the other hand, if someone has gone off on a tangent, guide them back by saying, “I hear your concerns. What is your recommendation?” Or, “What do you see as a solution?”
5. Finishing touches. Before ending—on time—decide next action steps and assign responsibilities for each action item. After the meeting, send a follow-up, summarizing key meeting points, within 48 hours.
If you adopt these suggestions, people will choose to be present at your meeting. And, don’t hesitate to share these strategies with your supervisor!