We’ve all been to those meetings… you know the ones where attendees are late, disorganised, or unprepared. Where you walk out thinking that meeting achieved absolutely nothing and it was a complete waste of your time. Nothing is more frustrating, except maybe if you add in an attendee who doesn’t divert their phone, is on their phone or the chair of the meeting fails to keep the attendees on topic or within the expected time-frame.
Time is the one thing that we can never have enough of and we would all like more of. To assist you in ensuring you are making the most of the time and the time you invest in meetings is as effective as possible, I have put together my top 7 tips:
1. Set an objective – ensure every meeting has a purpose and a formal agenda that focuses time spent on what matters. If what you are looking to achieve is unclear then the meeting can turn into nothing more than a time consuming discussion or debate with the outcome not being achieved.
2. Learn to chair – make sure every person that runs meetings has undertaken training on how to chair a meeting. This is critical not only for them to manage the meeting effectively but also critical for attendees to see meetings well managed.
3. Be brief – focus on actions and outcomes coming out of each discussion point and ensure meetings end with everyone being very clear on the commitments made at the meeting. Long winded meeting minutes are normally a sign of butt covering or politics which has no place in a high performing culture. If people can’t attend a meeting, it is their responsibility to follow up and understand the outcomes from the meeting.
4. Take action – ensure minutes focus on actions and accountability. Minute takers also need to have training on how to minute meetings appropriately. Both sets of training discussed will be a small cost for a massive benefit for your organisation.
5. Be accountable – ensure there is accountability on all participants to prepare prior to the session. This can be strengthened by ensuring agendas, discussion items and information is sent out well in advance of the meeting. Lock in minimum dates for getting agendas and reports out and stick to them. Allow time at the end of the meeting summarise, assign and document the key actions.
6. Stay focused – put clocks in every meeting room and ensure you have a focus on time, actions and outcomes. Stick to time through facilitating focused discussions. If items require further discussion, arrange an alternate meeting with the required attendees, so that your meeting stays aligned with your agenda.
7. Use a meeting review checklist – have someone review the meeting as the last agenda item against a simple review checklist. Their role is to debrief for three minutes at the end on what worked well in the meeting and how it can improve for the future. It is frank, honest and really ensures accountability around maximising your time together.
Like most people I have been to numerous meetings that have not been run effectively. They only dilute the credibility of those involved and portrays them as being ineffective. Therefore you also start to question their knowledge, expertise and ability to deliver outcomes.
To some all these points are common sense, but clearly there is a skill involved in conducting effective meetings. Make sure you take the time to learn how to effectively run your meetings, be disciplined and ensure you have covered off on each of my 7 tips!