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Meetings can easily turn into an unproductive waste of time. Anyone who’s ever attended a meeting can tell you that most of the time it takes half the meeting to start discussing the point of the meeting. That’s inefficient, and inefficiency is a business killer. It’s time to change the way you approach meetings and in the process increase the amount of work you accomplish during them. Here are a couple of tips to help you do just that.
A lack of a solid strategy is the number one reason that meetings fail to accomplish anything. Inviting the wrong people, not having a clear agenda and having too many people in the room are just some of the problems that lead to ineffective meetings. Model your meetings based on the strategy below and you’ll be able to get more accomplished with shorter and less frequent meetings.
1. Set Clear Goals
Every meeting should have a purpose. Most meetings aim to solve a problem, relay information or make decisions. Identify the reason you’re meeting and set clear goals that you want to accomplish. Then write up an agenda and hand it out attendees well before the meeting.
2. Only Invite Those You Need
Having too many non-essential people in a meeting is one of the fastest ways to turn it into an unproductive venture. Once you’ve set the agenda for the meeting you need to decide who the essential attendees are. Only invite those people who can help you achieve the objectives set forth in the agenda.
3. Stop Holding Open Ended Meetings
One of the reasons for having an agenda is so that you’re meetings don’t drag on forever. It’s a good idea to set a time limit for the meeting. Time limits keep attendees focused and on task.
Another trick you can employ to keep meeting participants focused is choosing an irregular meeting length. If you estimate a meeting lasting 30 minutes, set it for 35 minutes or some other irregular block of time instead. It shows the attendees that you’ve put some real thought into the items on the agenda.
4. Don’t Just Sit There
Sitting around a conference table with a laptop or phone in front of you and listening to people drone on about something is a recipe for disaster. Attendees will lose focus and tune most of the meeting out. Keep the meeting as dynamic as you can. Get up, walk around, stand and use visual aids to keep the atmosphere lively.
5. No Phones. No Laptops. No Tablets.
Ban all electronics from the meeting room unless they are essential to accomplishing the goals set forth in the agenda. Everyone is there to accomplish a specific set of goals. Removing electronics limit distractions caused by Twitter, Facebook, email, texts and fantasy football. Before the meeting starts collect all cellphones, laptops and tablets and store them in a box. Return them once the meeting has concluded.
6. Don’t Leave Anyone Out
At this point, everyone who is at the meeting was invited for a specific reason. You decided that this group of people was the group to accomplish your goals. Use everyone in the room to make that happen. They are all there because they have a skillset you found valuable. Put that skillset to use.
7. Control The Meeting
You’ve set a time limit and only invited essential personnel. Now you have to control the meeting and make sure it runs the way you want. Don’t let one person monopolize the conversation, don’t let the discussion go off topic and make sure you get everyone involved by asking their opinions if they aren’t freely offering them.
8. Take Meeting Notes
It’s important to take notes of any decisions made during the meeting. Make sure you include any actionable items agreed upon and who is responsible for taking those actions.
9. Follow Up With Meeting Notes Quickly
Delayed action is one of the reasons so many people find meetings unproductive. Get your meeting notes out to attendees as soon as possible. It reminds them that the meeting accomplished something and will motivate them to be engaged contributors during your next meeting.