When it comes to meetings, it can seem impossible to hit just the right frequency. You need to have enough meetings to do the job, but you don’t want to needlessly waste everyone’s precious time by having too many. Often we err too far in the direction of excess. In fact, excessive, unnecessary meetings have really become a cliché.
One of the most common reasons why businesses find themselves having too many meetings is inefficiency. For example, a meeting is held and certain subjects are discussed. However, not all the relevant information was prepared beforehand so one issue gets bumped onto the agenda of the next meeting. At the next meeting, the discussion gets off topic and a team member brings up a new issue. A new meeting is then scheduled to discuss that issue, and so the chain continues.
Meetings are a great thing. They enable your team to present and discuss ideas. They also allow team members to receive new information which can help them in their jobs and they're a valuable time for team interaction. However, too many inefficient meetings start to negate those benefits. Particularly when dealing with large companies and teams of substantial size, inefficient meetings can really take a toll on productivity.
Rather than maligning meetings as a whole, instead focus on streamlining your meeting schedules to achieve greater efficiency. This is especially important for large companies.
Before you allow unorganized meetings to derail your team, consider these ideas:
Streamline the meeting
When you're dealing with large companies, it's essential that your time is coordinated well. Before calling mass meetings with dozens of team members, decide who the key stakeholders will be. Next, ask yourself how many people beyond these stakeholders really need to be in attendance. Can you hold the meeting with fewer people?
If large numbers of people do need to be in attendance, consider alternative meeting approaches such as online meetings. By holding the meeting online rather than in person, you'll reduce the time spent in transit to the meeting location. You'll also save on transport costs and, by having members participate from their own desks or offices, you minimize their downtime as well.
Organize the meeting
Before you even send a meeting calendar request, make certain that you know your topic. What is your objective in having this meeting? Make sure to thoroughly plan your agenda and gather any materials you might need for the discussion.
Once you have scheduled the meeting, arrange to have all attendees receive their materials in advance and encourage them to look these over. Especially with large groups, this will save substantial time in handing out materials. Gather feedback and any preliminary questions so that you can prepare for those as well. Do as much preparation on the topic as possible before the meeting even begins. This way, time spent in the meeting can be shorter but more productive.
Follow up on your meeting
Before leaving the meeting, make sure that all next-step actions have been assigned to someone and that the person is aware of the expectations. This is especially important at large company meetings where individuals can feel lost in the crowd. Check at the meeting’s close to be sure they have what they need.
Finally, after the meeting, don’t forget to do a critical reflection and evaluation. What went right during the meeting? What could you do better next time? Use these notes to continuously improve the efficiency of your meetings.