Attending meetings seems to be one of those things we all feel like is a waste of time, but we keep doing it the same way. The employees are often bored, wondering what they’re even doing there in the first place, nobody’s getting much done at all, and making matters worse: meetings are often expensive, especially if it’s a small company. Why is it that we keep meeting in the same, expensive and inefficient ways – when everyone is dreading the time spent in the boardrooms in any way?
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The truth is, an effective meeting has so many benefits that we’ll keep striving for perfection. Here is a handful of the best advice we could find, so that you and your business meetings can prosper the right way.
The best way to make it worth your time is to, first of all, eliminate all those update meetings. As a new employee, you might feel like attending these are a sure way to make you feel like you’re doing something important while you’re actually not. As you stay with the company, you come to realize that this is true; your leaders have just grown into this way of thinking – and even gotten used to wasting time with update meetings and chit-chat.
Something that could easily be said through an email should not be turned into a meeting. A good rule-of-thumb is that a meeting without any action-steps has little value to your company. Calling everyone into the boardroom and away from their desks just because it’s Monday makes little sense; in fact, it only makes sense if you’ve done it for the last couple of years and have stagnated in the habit, which makes it even more important that they come to an end.
Keep it on track
A good meeting is often filled with different ideas and relevant inputs, but sometimes the discussion can drift off ever so slightly. As a leader, you need to steer the communication in the right direction – even when the discussion is interesting. Don’t allow it to drift off and forget about the agenda; rather make a note of it, and let them know that you will get back to it another time. That way, the participants see that what they’re talking about has value but keeping a structure to the meeting is more important – especially since you’re trying to make the most out of the time allocated.
Another idea is to hold a standing meeting to keep people from sinking back into their chairs, drifting off, and taking a nap. It will save you time since people want to get back to their chairs again; a standing meeting is good for everyone.
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Select a few
Your employees are at work to do their job, and calling them in for meetings where they have nothing to say or do but to plan the following week’s dinner in their heads, makes them less productive. I think a lot of companies that get used to holding large meetings a couple of times a week, forget to think about the intention of the meeting; what type of meeting is this, and do will the people be relevant enough to participate in discussions?
Make sure everyone there has a clear role and purpose. It will make your time spent together more effective, as well as save your company money – which is perfect for any manager looking to grow their business. Read more in this article for some simple tips on effective leadership.
Set an agenda
This is the most important one, and perhaps what you should do first when deciding to call a meeting. Set an agenda as well as the desired outcome and send it around – it’s not just for your eyes and a select few. Before a meeting, leaders may set an agenda in their head, a outcome only they seem to be aware of – and the rest of the employees are left with no sense of direction at all.
It’s no wonder that they feel like meetings are a big time-waster, and that no one has any relevant contributions, when the people who could have contributed had no time to prepare for it. When everyone has a clear idea of what you will be discussing and why you will meet to discuss it, they will feel more involved and willing to participate.
It’s quite logical, really – even as children, we were given a timetable and an agenda for our learning. As grownups, we’ll need a bit more to feel included enough to participate. A classroom is often a noisy and confusing place when the teacher is the only one with a vague idea of what they need to discuss and the desired outcome. The children, just like the employees, will try to fill the time with socializing as they have no idea what else to do.
Time it and leave a buffer
An effective meeting should start on time and end on time. If you’ve managed to set a clear agenda, you usually know how much time you’ll need to get through it all. Without a clear agenda, it becomes difficult to maintain a structure to it and end on the desired time.
What’s more, a clear schedule will keep your employees conscious of it too; when they’re aware that you have only set aside 20 minutes to get through the agenda, they will attend the meeting on time and be sharp enough to have it done within the deadline. It’s like Parkinson’s law; people tend to expand the work to fill the amount of time they have been given. If you want to improve the efficiency of your business, you’ll be wise in remembering this for the next meetings you plan.
Even the most efficient leader can make management mistakes, though. Especially the ones who adopted the advice above and finds that it fits their time-conscious minds perfectly. They might send out a sharp and on-point agenda to a handful of relevant employees, even stack away all the chairs and keep the meeting standing, but people still wander in five or ten minutes after it was scheduled. Remember to leave a buffer for them to get a cup of coffee, go to the toilet, and everything else humans need to do; otherwise, you’ll see your perfectly timed meeting dragged out again and again.