Most of us (business owners, managers, and employees) believe lots of them are unproductive, but we still manage to have endless meetings. Unfortunately they are probably never going to go away. Even if you reduce the amount of meetings that you hold and/or attend, you will still need to go to some. Your business colleagues will have to go to them too, and so will your staff. The trick is to make meetings more effective. Here are 18 tips:
- Set A Clear Agenda
Agendas are documents that are usually knocked up in a couple of minutes, but they are critical to running an efficient meeting. Take time when creating an agenda, distribute it to everyone who is attending, and insist on sticking to it.
- Be Strict On Who Is Invited
Only invite people who are crucial and have a valuable contribution to make. Ideally keep the numbers at seven or less.
- Schedule It For Half The Time
Think about how long the meeting normally takes then schedule it for half the time. Stick to this as rigidly as you can, and keep the meeting as short as possible.
- Be Prepared
To get the most out of the meeting make sure you are fully prepared beforehand, and insist that others are as well.
- Have A Clear Objective
Don’t have meetings for the sake of having meetings. They should have a clear objective. If the meeting doesn’t meet the objective change it for the next time. If it still doesn’t meet the objective try an approach that doesn’t involve a meeting.
- Someone Has To Lead
Every meeting needs a leader whose main job is to stick to the agenda and achieve the objective. It can be you or someone else – it doesn’t matter so long as someone leads.
- Have A Helper
Whoever is the leader needs a helper who can look after things like distributing paperwork, dealing with a projector, etc. This will keep things moving along.
- Start The Meeting On Time
Never start late. If people are not there start anyway, and don’t recap for the latecomers. People will soon get the message that they must be punctual.
- Ban Phones
At the very least insist that phones are on silent and put away.
- Don’t Hog The Limelight
Let whoever is most knowledgeable or capable lead certain sections of the meeting. That often means being quiet and insisting the some opinionated people around the table are quiet too.
- Stay On Track
Don’t get side tracked during the meeting, and don’t allow people to get into conversations about non-relevant topics, like football or TV. That can all be done when the meeting is over.
- Deal With The Most Important Items First
Focus on the main issues first so you can chose to end the meeting in a reasonable time, even if everything has not been achieved, as at least the critical parts were covered.
- Document The Meeting
Have someone take notes and get them typed up and distributed promptly after the meeting.
In the last five to 10 minutes of the meeting recap what has been said and agreed. In particular highlight action points and responsibilities so there is no ambiguity that has to be corrected with another meeting!
- Deal With Updates Via Email
Don’t schedule a meeting to give updates on a meeting – they can almost always be done by email.
The final three tips are a little bit more unusual, and they won’t suit every business or every occasion. They have been proven in some circumstances to be effective, and you might be able to get something from them.
- Don’t Sit
Studies have shown that people make decisions 30 percent quicker when standing, with no loss of decision making quality.
- Meet Outside The Office
If meetings are getting stale or routine try changing the surroundings.
- Meet Outside
You don’t always have to meet around a board table with laptops, papers, and iPads. Some meetings can be completed on walks to other meetings, around the park over lunch, or on the way back to the car.
For more specific business and accounting advice please contact a member of the Gilroy Gannon team today.