3 Strategies for More Effective Meetings

calendar May 16, 2019

Raise your hand if you love sitting in meetings! Anyone? Hello?

If you’re like most people, you’re not excited about the possibility of adding another meeting to your week. You may also be frustrated with the lack of preparation, organization, progress, and productivity that goes into the meetings you do attend.

When you do go to a good meeting, it’s like a breath of fresh air. So let’s talk about how you can make more of THOSE kinds of meetings happen in your organization.

There are lots of ways to improve meetings, but here are three quick things you can do to immediately improve the quality of your team sessions.

1. Meet with a purpose

Just because a meeting is on the schedule doesn’t mean it actually needs to happen.

Meeting out of obligation or without a defined purpose is a waste of everyone’s time. Having a meeting just because it’s Monday doesn’t make any sense. Even if there are doughnuts involved. Think about it. Would your team rather have a bunch of extra calories or some extra time to get their work done?

Here are some good reasons to have a meeting:

  • Your team is working collectively to achieve a specific, defined objective.
  • There are important updates to communicate, and it can’t easily be done via email.
  • The meeting content is educational and will better prepare each attendee to be more successful in his/her role.

Here are some bad reasons to have a meeting:

  • It’s 10:00 on Tuesday, and you always meet at 10:00 on Tuesdays.
  • You like getting everyone in the same room just to catch up.
  • Something always comes up to talk about at these things.

If you’re going to take your people away from their work, you need to make it count.

  • Make sure there are specific objectives to achieve by the end of the meeting.
  • Communicate that objective when the meeting is set and remind everyone of the objective when the meeting starts.
  • Continue the meeting until it's achieved and end the meeting as soon as it's achieved.

Scheduling Tip: Meetings don’t automatically need default to an hour. If you’ve got 20 minutes of material to cover, schedule 20 minutes.

2. Create an agenda first

Never ask people to come to a meeting without explaining in reasonable detail what will happen when they get there. This forces the facilitator to prepare and lets each attendee know what they need to do in order to contribute and benefit from the meeting.

Please note: Going around the room and letting everyone talk for a few minutes is NOT an agenda. If you like these kinds of meetings, join a book club.

Planning tip: The agenda doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as three bullet points.

3. Confirm before and after

Always confirm who is coming to the meeting before it happens. Everyone on the invite list should be critical to the objectives of the meeting. If one person isn’t there, your meeting could be at a standstill. If you know key people aren’t able to be there, you can cancel the meeting ahead of time and reschedule for another time.

Confirmation should also take place at the end of the meeting. Before everyone gets up and walks out the door, get verbal validation from each attendee that the meeting objectives were met. Make sure everyone understands what their role is moving forward.

Efficiency Tip: Attendees aren't there to be entertained. Their job is to participate and contribute. Ask people if they got what they expected out of the meeting and confirm what their takeaways are.

Make your meetings count

If you’re still thinking about all of the bad meetings you have to attend on a regular basis, perhaps you should take a quick look in the mirror.

Did you schedule a meeting with no real purpose or agenda? Did you fail to have the important people in the room? Is everyone leaving with unclear goals and unfinished business? Do you have to schedule a follow up meeting just to clarify roles moving forward? These kinds of meetings aren’t just demoralizing. They’re productivity killers.

Incorporating these new habits into your meeting processes will significantly improve meeting attendance, attitudes, and outcomes.

Once your meetings are running smoothly and efficiently, feel free to add those treats back into the mix. At that point, you will have earned it!


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