Nothing can throw off your day quite like a meeting that runs long or has no clear purpose. You have stopped what you are doing to attend and have gained little from it. Without proper planning, inefficient meetings can be a waste of time and money. On the other hand, if you have come prepared and have a plan in place, you can accomplish a great deal with a well-structured meeting.
- Make sure there is a clear purpose
It makes little sense to hold a meeting just because it has been a while and you feel you should. If you are providing a quick update, would an email be more effective? Or can you meet with a few key people individually rather than gathering everyone when the information may not apply to them? Have a specific purpose in mind, whether it is to problem solve, plan, share information, or build a consensus. Make sure that everyone knows the purpose ahead of time and you clarify again at the start of the meeting. Only invite those who need to be in attendance.
- Create an agenda
Develop an agenda that outlines what is to be covered at the meeting. Think through what the most important points are and what needs to be accomplished. Distributing the agenda ahead of time can allow attendees to be more prepared because they know exactly what will be covered and how they fit in. Stick to the agenda to remain focused and on-task. This can help to reduce off-topic conversation.
Ask for input ahead of time of important matters that need to be addressed. This can keep employees more engaged and hold them accountable for communicating progress or challenges. Prioritize items to ensure that those that are most important get covered.
- Determine actions and next steps
Throughout the course of the meeting, make sure that everyone has the chance to give their input and support decision making and planning. Once decisions or plans have been made, verify that everyone knows their role. What is each person expected to accomplish before the next meeting or deadline? What actions must be taken to reach the next step in the project or to implement the plan? Before adjourning, briefly summarize what was decided upon, the actions to be taken, and follow up. Distribute a copy of the minutes as a reference.
Implementing strategies to keep meetings more focused and goal-oriented can reduce wasted time and enhance productivity. Everyone comes to the meeting knowing what is expected and what material will be covered. With assigned roles, discussions are more focused, timelines are adhered to, and recommendations are made to improve efficiency and streamline processes. Everyone should leave knowing what they must do next, where projects stand, and where they are headed.
If your meetings lack a clear direction and employees are distracted and unengaged, the professionals at JP Kantor Consulting can help you to turn things around. Learn how to properly plan for goals and objectives, keep things running smoothly and on time, and establish steps to facilitate forward progress as well as accountability. Stop wasting time and maximize productivity by holding more effective meetings.