Have you ever felt your day waste away in meetings?
We’ve all been stuck in bad meetings. You know the kind, the ones that start late and drone on (and on) with no clear agenda or resolution.
These meetings not only zap energy, but they cost you time and money. Without a clear purpose and outcome, meetings can be seen as a waste of time, especially when you’re feeling stretched thin already. Be sure to leverage the power of productivity advising to boost your team’s effectiveness.
How to Hold More Effective Meetings
Effective meeting management and planning are crucial to enabling a company to move forward and make progress. So, when planning a meeting, you should ask yourself one simple question. Why are we meeting?
With today’s technology, there are many ways to communicate electronically. Think of the outcome; if it can be resolved with a quick email or phone call, don’t schedule a meeting.
Beyond wasting everyone’s time, you also have to consider the cost of the meeting. If everyone earns $35/hour and 6 people attend the meeting, that’s $210 per hour. This should put a meeting into a new perspective.
The first step in making your meeting effective begins with your planning and preparation.
Set the Agenda
In this video, Cultivate CEO and Co-Founder, Casey Clark outlines how to create an agenda for your meeting for a strong ROI.
Every meeting should serve a purpose and should be outcome-driven. Setting an outcome sets the foundation for building your agenda and deciding what materials need to be prepped. It lets you know how much time you will need and whether or not a presentation is necessary. Furthermore, it helps you begin to identify the roles each attendee holds in the meeting. By sharpening your focus, you’ll increase the chances of achieving your desired outcome.
To prepare a plan, consider the following factors:
- Priorities: what absolutely must be covered?
- Results: what do you need to accomplish at the meeting?
- Participants: who needs to attend the meeting for it to be successful
- Sequence: in what order will you cover the topics?
- Timing: how much time will you spend on each topic?
- Date and time: when will the meeting take place?
- Place: where will the session take place?
Decide who to invite.
Meetings can help obtain buy-in and consensus from the attendees. If you need a collaborative decision to move forward, a productive meeting can help layout options, pros/cons, and alternate thought patterns to help arrive at a consensus. If your team is part of this decision-making process, they are more likely to have buy-in to the outcome and next steps.
However, deciding on the guest list can be a challenge. Often, leaders will extend an invitation to the whole staff, or an entire department, without giving any thought to each individual’s role. Depending on the agenda, you will want to filter your guest list. Historically, the more people in a meeting, the less responsibility each person has; if people feel expendable, they won’t be as diligent in following up on the items discussed. Limiting the number of ‘spectators’ will help you keep the meetings shorter, more engaging, and easier, so you’ll end with clear action steps for everyone involved.
Schedule the meeting and assign any prep ahead of time.
Time is valuable and, with the amount of time we all spend in meetings, you owe it to both yourself and your team to streamline the meeting as much as possible.
The first step in streamlining your meeting is to decide how much time you should allocate to the meeting. Meetings should go only as long as needed to accomplish your desired outcome. Ask yourself how long that should take and plan accordingly.
Secondly, meetings are not the place to introduce a new concept. If you have information to share with the team before the meeting itself, send it ahead of time so that they have time to prepare and can come to the meeting with their thoughts and ideas. Another way to share ideas and encourage prep before the meeting is to assign prep before the meeting or have the attendees bring in items on a shared document. This way, everyone has a chance to prepare ahead of the meeting to ensure it’s productive.
The person who called the meeting needs to be responsible for driving the agenda and keep the meeting focused. While this doesn’t mean that other people can’t participate, they can, and should; only one person should be responsible for the meeting’s overall flow.
As the “owner,” it’s your job to keep the meeting on task. Begin by setting the stage with the Purpose, Outcome, Agenda, and Decision, and take responsibility for keeping the meeting moving forward. An easy way to avoid having the meeting dragged off in a different direction is to establish a Parking Lot at the top of the meeting. A Parking Lot is a list of off-topic questions/discussions built into the end of the meeting (if there is time). We can often cover these questions later in a meeting, or they resolve themselves; otherwise, these items can be addressed after the meeting or in a follow-up email. This is key to keeping a meeting on track. When meetings start to become talking sessions that go nowhere, people will disengage.
Identify and schedule the next steps.
At the end of the meeting, having clear next steps is vital. If you spend all of that time in the meeting, there better be a result or something to follow up on based on decisions made or the brainstorming completed. It is important to finish meetings with clear “to do’s” and select the driver for each task to move forward post-meeting.
In this video, Cultivate CEO, and Co-Founder Casey Clark outlines a 6-step process he uses in every meeting to ensure his team accomplishes its goals.
Meetings can be the most powerful tool in the success of your business. However, like any tool, you can only fully reap the benefits when you use it properly. Don’t waste another second in a poorly executed meeting. Use these guidelines to run effective meetings that leave you feeling energized and excited to get back to work.
If you need more help with your leadership and don’t know where to start, you don’t have to go at it alone. Schedule a free two-hour session to dig into your business and develop a plan.