As much as we spend our time communicating these days, we also seem to spend a lot of time in ‘meetings’, which, like email, can also become something that consumes our time and prevents us from doing what needs to be done.
With that in mind, here are some suggestions to help improve the quality of your meetings.
1. Don’t attend any meeting without an agenda
Every meeting should be about ‘something’ and the best way to determine what that ‘something’ is, is to have an agenda. Many times, if you invest some time upfront working out what the meeting is for, you may find that it is not required at all!
2. Keep the meeting focused on the agenda topics
It is too easy for a meeting to get side tracked into areas that weren’t planned. When it does, people are not prepared for that content and this guarantees that the time required for the meeting will be extended. There is no need to stop the flow of ideas and information but if they are off topic, note them down and come back to them later if time permits. If not, then schedule more time later on.
3. Make sure everyone get the opportunity to contribute
In many cases meetings are dominated by a few individuals and it is important to ensure that these people don’t always monopolise the proceedings. If they do, then you will not only find meeting running longer but you’ll get less and less interactions as others are hesitant to speak up. Providing everyone with the opportunity to contribute promotes limits on who can dominate any meeting.
4. End with a call to action
Don’t leave a meeting without a well defined action plan for attendees. Make sure everyone knows what the next step will be and who is responsible for taking these actions. You want people to associate meetings with actually getting things done rather than just being about consuming time. That should make them more enthusiastic about attending.
A final ‘trick’ if you want short focused meetings is to remove all the chairs and have the meeting standing up. Guaranteed, it will be short!