Most of us at some point have attended a meeting that drones on and on; the meeting where everyone sits fiddling with his or her smart phone; the meeting that Darren hijacks; or the meeting where almost everyone in the room is wondering the same thing: Why am I here?
Meetings fill an increasing number of hours in the workday, and yet most employees consider them a waste of time.
Running an effective meeting is more than sending out a notice that your team is to meet at a particular time and place. Effective meetings need structure and order. Without these elements they can go on forever and not accomplish a thing.
With a solid objective in mind, a tight agenda, and a commitment to involving the meeting participants in the planning, preparation, and execution of the meeting, you are well on your way to chairing effective meetings.
Here are some tips to run effective, efficient meetings that leave your employees feeling energized and excited about their work:
- A meeting without a specific aim is usually a waste of time. Make sure your objectives are clear. Avoid a meeting if the same information could be covered in a memo, e-mail or brief report.
- Consider who is invited. The people in the meeting room make or break your effectiveness. When you’re calling a meeting, take time to think about who really needs to be there. If people feel that what’s being discussed isn’t relevant to them they’ll view their attendance at the meeting as a waste of time.
- Nominate one person to act as meeting organiser: This person sets up the meeting and arranges a convenient meeting time and location.
- All agenda items to the organiser: There should always be an agenda. All attendees should contribute to that agenda. Your agenda needs to include a brief description of the meeting objectives, a list of the topics to be covered and a list stating who will address each topic and for how long.
- Organiser assembles and distributes agenda: The organiser should assemble the agenda and distribute this to all attendees with any accompanying documents. This should be distributed at least 24hrs before the meeting so that attendees have a chance to read documents beforehand. One major time waster is to distribute documents at the meeting itself.
- Start on time. Do not penalize the people who were there on time by waiting for others who are late. If someone comes in late and finds out they’ve missed important information, do not start over for them. They will eventually get the message and be more punctual. Encourage people to arrive 5 minutes before the start time.
- Come prepared. Participants should bring a paper and pen and should be discouraged from using their smartphones during the meeting.
- No AOB: The ‘Any Other Business’ item is one of the biggest time wasters at meetings. Often, items are dropped into the meeting at this point. Other participants have no prior warning and are unprepared. This often leads to unproductive discussions and arguments. If you really must have AOB on your agenda make a rule that it can only be used for items that are urgent and that have come to light after the agenda was closed.
- No agenda items – no meeting: If there is nothing to discuss there should be no meeting. Teams often schedule regular weekly or monthly meetings for good reasons. However, there are occasions when there is nothing worth discussing. If so, the meeting should be cancelled.
- Chair controls meeting and ensures agenda and timings are followed: This speaks for itself but is really important. When nobody takes charge of managing time, it is easy to become careless and unfocused. End the meeting on time. Remember – when people attend a meeting they cannot do anything else. Make the time count!
- Action points and owners of the actions must be recorded. Don’t finish any discussion in the meeting without deciding how to act on it.
- Recap the results of the meeting before adjourning.
- Publishing your minutes and action plan within 24 hours. People will most effectively contribute to results if they get started on action items right away.