Employees and managers alike loath meetings, often complaining that meetings get in the way of actual work. Sometimes, however, meetings are essential to getting the job done. Here are some tips on how to run fewer and better meetings.
Is this really necessary?
Before scheduling a meeting ask yourself if you really need to have one in the first place. Remember: You are paying your employees to sit there, so run the numbers and see if having a meeting is the most effective way for them to spend their time. Often you can achieve the same—or better—results just by speaking directly to key employee(s).
State your business
If you decide you really do need a meeting, make sure everyone is focused on the task at hand. In your invites, clearly state your agenda, topics for discussion, decisions that need to be made, and any preparation your attendees need to complete before the meeting.
Invite as few people as possible to your meetings. If you have more than 10 people there, you’re probably wasting someone’s time. Avoid inviting employees with negative attitudes to meetings as they tend to drag down the energy. Instead, invite them to email their suggestions ahead of time.
Time is of the essence
By starting your meeting on schedule you are showing that you value your employees’ time. Make sure they do the same by showing up on time. Keep your meeting to 30 minutes or less. Longer than that and people have trouble staying focused. You’ll be amazed at what a little time pressure can do to keep people energized and on point. If you absolutely need to go longer, plan on a short break at the 30-minute mark to allow people to stand, stretch, and get a drink.
Stand up and take notice
Try your next meeting as a stand-up meeting (no seats allowed). It helps to keep the meeting short and it makes for a conducive and high-energy environment.
One of the main complaints from employees is that they leave a meeting with no clear sense of having accomplished anything. Give everyone at your meeting a clear actionable task. If there aren’t enough tasks to go around, perhaps you have invited too many people to the meeting. Give out these tasks and then follow up later, either in the next meeting, or individually.
A great meeting can be a positive and productive experience for everyone involved. Follow the steps mentioned above and you’ll have fewer and shorter but ultimately more productive meetings.
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