“Most meetings start late, run long and don’t achieve much,” saysconsultant Mike Richardson. He offers these tips for developing productive meetings that accomplish your objectives:
1. Distribute an agenda for your group
Send out the agenda ahead of time. Include the purpose of the meeting so that people know what to expect from it. That way, they are prepared to come with possible solutions in mind.
2. Time-box each agenda item
“Meetings should last 45 minutes, from five minutes after the hour to 10 minutes before the hour,” says Richardson. Figure out how much time to spend on each agenda item. Stick to your time, and avoid distractions.
3. Create a cheat sheet for yourself
Set up a spreadsheet for yourself that outlines your objectives for each agenda item. That way, your meetings will be easy to run, and you’ll stay on track and get your points across.
4. Ask questions Ask questions that engage interest and involve the group, such as, “So, how do you think we should tackle this issue?” Encourage people to share their ideas, or break into pairs or groups to discuss the ideas and report back. Allot time for each step of the process.
5. Post key elements of your presentation Use a format large enough for you to refer to during the meeting. Ditch the PowerPoint presentation for small groups.
6. Work toward consensus and get buy-in
Ask “Can everyone get behind that?” and follow up with “So you think this is the best way to do it?”
7. Reinforce the message
Place your presentation on the server for easy access after the meeting.
“Don’t bog yourself down by time-wasting meetings stuck in minutiae,” says Richardson. “Running a good meeting is one big step toward creating an agile organization that accomplishes its goals neatly, without all the blather.”