We are now working in a more collaborative way than ever before, with meetings taking up large amounts of time for many people in the workforce, especially those in managerial roles. Yet an ineffective meeting can be a useless waste of company time and resources.
Every meeting you hold should have a tangible outcome, but this can only happen with proper planning and by avoiding some common mistakes. Here are seven tips to help you avoid unproductive meetings.
1. Set up a clear agenda
Before your meeting, you need to summarize what you will be covering and why. If you can’t find a decent reason, then you probably don’t need to be holding a meeting. Formulate a plan for the meeting, complete with an outline of the objectives, and send it to everyone you have invited to the meeting. Productivity should follow naturally if you get this step right.
2. It’s a meeting, not a party
You don’t need to invite every employee to every meeting. Rather, you should be highly selective and only invite those who truly need to attend. For decision making, seven is the magic number as it allows for great brainstorming and collaboration without too much conflict. If you have more than 7 attendees, every additional attendee reduces the likelihood of making a good, quick, executable decision by 10%. If only three people need to be there, then this is the exact number you should invite.
3. Ask attendees to prepare beforehand
With the meeting agenda in their hands, your attendees should be able to plan for the meeting beforehand if necessary and should be encouraged to do so, especially if they need to present materials, documents or slideshows. If everyone comes prepared and knows what to expect, your meeting will run more smoothly.
4. Keep it short and simple
There’s no need to spend hours sitting in a stuffy room going over the same points. You need to keep meetings concise for maximum productivity. Start by slashing meeting times if possible, such as from 40 minutes to 20 minutes. You may be surprised to find that you will still cover everything. Stick to the agenda and limit speaking times to keep it moving. Appoint a timekeeper if needed.
5. Record key points
The results of the meeting will go to waste if no one remembers what was said, so make sure attendees take notes on the key points and that you do the same. The notes can then be reviewed afterwards and distributed to anyone else who may benefit or be interested.
6. Assign action items
This is perhaps the most important consideration when it comes to productivity. You need to create actionable tasks based on the decisions made during the meeting. This means you will actually leave the meeting with a plan of action. Each actionable task should be assigned to a capable individual, along with a due date, so that they become responsible and accountable for that particular aspect of the overall plan.
7. Post-meeting communication
Though your meeting might be over when everyone leaves the room, your communication should not be. You need to follow up with attendees and have them report their progress on actionable tasks, as well as reporting your own progress to them.
If you follow all seven of these tips, your meetings should always run productively and result in you achieving your goals.