One comment I hear over and over is how boring meetings are. Time-wasters. Not productive. Tedious. In truth, meetings are essential for communication and effective business management, and they need to be strategic, agenda-centric and to the point. Meaning: Everyone in the meeting knows why they are there and what they are there to take away. Meetings are not soap boxes, especially today when time is such a precious commodity.
I have learned some strategies over the years that can be employed to make them productive and effective and thought that it would be helpful to share, as the meeting theme has been in many conversations lately.
1. Be sure the meeting has a goal
The person who calls the meeting must define the goal of the meeting; ideally in a single sentence! And the goal should be clear in terms of specific behavior. For example, if the goal of the meeting is to brainstorm about a new product name, stay focused on creating a list of names (NOT deciding on the best name). That is for the next meeting and is a separate process from brainstorming.
2. Be sure to have an agenda to share
The meeting agenda is an extension of the goal and is written down and distributed as a brief outline to everybody before the meeting. This includes what time it starts and ends (really important). This helps people establish expectations and bring the details, materials and thoughts to the meeting that will increase its odds of success.
3. Maintain the meeting's focus
Assign someone in the meeting to be responsible for keeping the meeting on track and focused. This person is responsible for being sure that the conversation isn't wandering and has been given permission and consent to do so when inevitable distractions occur.
4. Summarize the meeting in writing
Someone needs to take notes and distribute them to all in attendance within a few hours of the meeting. This should be a brief synopsis of any decisions made and relevant discussion points.
5. Think about what you want to contribute ahead of time
This will minimize your tendency to interrupt and/or potentially get sidetracked. Being purposeful is a good thing.
6. Break long meetings into shorter meetings
If the meeting is going to be really long, suggest breaks so that people can actually stay focused. We all have limited attention spans these days and a definite aversion to "boring."
7. Have recurring regular meetings and keep them short
We are all way too busy these days to sit in unproductive meetings. Make them short and sweet - and if necessary - just have more of them. But if you are purposeful and organized in terms of what you hope to accomplish, it may not be necessary.
So... My experience is that well-organized and executed meetings ultimately save time and increase productivity and communication overall.
My suggestion is to try one strategy, and see how you do.
Here's to your success!
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