Failing to plan….. (we all know how the saying goes)
We’ve all been in meetings that drag on and don’t seem to achieve anything. They’re frustrating. But even if you’re not the one organising, here are a few tips to make sure your next meeting is productive:
- Understand the meeting objectives:
Every meeting has goals or objectives. It might be to provide a brief on a project, resolve an issue, create a strategy or to come to an agreement. Whatever the objective is, having a clear understanding of why everybody is meeting and what is hoped to be achieved will help to stay focused and productive.
- Do you actually need a meeting to achieve these objectives?
Everyone is busy. The thought of having a meeting to have a meeting makes most people shudder. So ask – can these objectives be achieved by a conversation? Or maybe an email chain? Or can it be raised at a meeting as an agenda item?
- Have an Agenda
Failing to plan is planning to fail. A well-planned meeting needs an agenda, and ideally it should be circulated in advance. This is a good step so everyone is on the same page and the participants can make the most of their time and just getting down to business. But apart from that it makes sure that there is a clear focus, direction and outcomes.
Make sure there’s someone to take minutes. Again, ideally these should be sent or made available to people who participated. So they need to be accurate. But minuets also become a handy reference of what happened and who needs to do what.
If there are expectations for how the meeting should be run, let everybody know first. Turn phones to flight mode? Questions during or at the end? Conversation to a minimum? Or if there are guests; maybe you want to mention evacuation procedures or where the restrooms are. Raising these issues at the start helps to make sure the meeting runs smoothly.
- Stay on track
Staying on track makes sure meetings are productive and efficient. Sure, there needs to be room for conversation to flow, but keeping the agenda flowing and stay on time (as much as possible, at least). If a topic needs further discussion, park it for the next meeting, create an email chain to explore more, or if it’s really important; organise another meeting.
- Verify action items
Communication is important, and taking the time in the meeting to double check that everybody understands their action tasks can mean the difference between a talk-fest and achieving objectives. A 1 minute wrap up at the end, before the meeting closes, makes sure everyone is on the same page and helps make sure the meeting is productive.
- Follow up action items before the next meeting
Finally, before your next meeting, follow up and check to see that everyone on track with their action items. Keep up the momentum and help make all meetings productive and efficient!
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