Do you look forward to meetings?
No? I don’t either.
I don’t know anyone who really loves meetings (ok, I know one person but for their own protection, they shall remain anonymous).
In the business world, meetings are inevitable. Some are even essential. But that doesn’t mean they have to turn into a time suck.
Time is valuable, and in the business world, time is money. Therefore, if you’re going to attend a meeting—or host a meeting—you need to be sure that it is worth the time for everyone attending.
I’ve attended many meetings over the years, some for business, some for non-profit organizations, and some for other, less easily defined purposes. Most of them could have been much more productive (and shorter!) than they were. I’ve learned from all these meetings, though, so here are five ways I have found to have more productive meetings.
Declare a Monday meeting moratorium.
This one is my personal favorite. As long as I have been in business I have avoided scheduling meetings and appointments on Mondays. My work week is much more effective when I use Monday to process any weekend jobs, plan out my week and empty my inbox and voicemail. Sometimes a Monday meeting is essential. In my opinion, that’s rare.
For most business owners and most employees, Monday mornings often come with a fuller inbox, both digital and physical. Knowing that I have Monday to focus on my work and give my week a solid start, makes me a much more productive businesswoman.
Have a clear agenda.
Know the purpose of your meeting before you schedule it. Or before you agree to attend. Limit your agenda to necessary items.
Be prepared to keep the meeting on track. Use your leadership skills to redirect back to the agenda as needed. This is a meeting, not a social hour, and most attendees really do want to get back to whatever else they do besides attending meetings.
Do not attempt to solve every company issue in one meeting. It’s not going to happen and everyone will only leave the meeting frustrated and feeling like they’ve wasted their time. Be sure you provide the agenda to your attendees enough ahead of time so they can come prepared to contribute.
Invite only essential attendees to your meeting.
The more people you invite, the less productive meetings become. The Rule of Seven says that every attendee over seven reduces the ability of attendees to effectively contribute or make decisions. So a meeting with 20 people? It’s essentially completely ineffective. If they don’t really need to be there, don’t waste their time. Get input ahead of time via email or phone. I know only a few people (save the one I mentioned earlier) who would be offended at not being summoned to one. more. meeting.
Set a time limit.
Most calendar programs automatically default at one hour for meetings. Do you really need that long? One monthly meeting I attend actually assigns a time limit to each agenda item. They are some of the most on-schedule meetings I attend. Schedule only the time you need for a meeting. If you can accomplish the objective in 15 minutes, don’t tie up an extra hour of everyone’s day.
Reconsider Whether You Actually Need a Meeting.
Do you really need an in-person, face-to-face meeting to accomplish the objective?
If you can get the information you need and make decisions via email, telephone, video conference, or even online chat, why schedule a face-to-face meeting? Save everyone some time–especially if they have to travel–and skip the meeting altogether. I’m pretty sure no one is going to complain.
How do you make your meetings more productive? Share your best tips in the comment section below.