Have you ever been on one of those never ending meetings that were so un relevant to you that you asked yourself “Why am I even here?”.
Those meetings where you wish you could be late and leave early, because they keep going around the same topic over and over again without getting to a solution.
For some people, at least 60 % of their time at work consists of attending meetings in order to manage projects or teams. The problem comes, like it was mentioned before, when this time is not used well and goals are not met.
Meetings can be your greatest help or your greatest time wasters, depending on how you run them as a leader and how you approach them as a team member.
1. What’s the point?
Pointless meetings are exactly what their name indicates, meetings with no point. No progress is seen and objectives are not met.
When preparing for a meeting, you should take the time to think about what you want to accomplish through it. Meetings can have various functions: they can be informative, for brainstorming, to follow up on current projects, to make decisions or solve problems and to plan for things that are coming up.
Once you recognise the type of meeting you will be running, you can go on to think who needs to be present in order to accomplish the goal.
2. “You are invited to the party!”
Well, it can be a party if you want to make it one, but knowing the purpose of the meeting will help you determine who needs to be there.
To make this easier, you might want to take the time to answer the following questions:
Who has a say on the issue/topic? (Either because of their experience, involvement on the project or role in the organisation)
Who will be affected by the decision?(This could be a department head or team leader depending on the size of the organisation)
Who should be aware of what is discussed? (Could include an oversight or key team members, always depending on what the meeting is for)
3. Not all roads lead to Rome.
Depending on the type of meeting, your structure will also be different. How you get to the outcome will vary depending on where you actually want to go.
If you are on a brainstorming meeting, you will be using more time to hear and collaborate with each other than on an informative meeting where you are the one appointing people and their correspondent tasks.
Having the right structure will help you be more effective and it will also help you skip some irrelevant meeting sections.
A basic structure you could use in almost every type of meeting is:
Current state: in order for you to go somewhere, you first need to know where you are at, so you know how long and how much (Effort, money, work, people, planning ) it will take you to reach your goal.
Desired outcome: Where do we want to get? What do we want to achieve?
Information: either from you or from the team depending on what type of meeting it is (reporting, informing, stats).
Collaboration/ Questions: this is the space for you to bounce of each other if necessary or asking questions. There is nothing more annoying than having the meeting interrupted at the wrong moment, so if you desire so, make it clear for the people that you will be having a specific time for questions after you give or discuss with each other all the information needed (E.g. Brainstorming, asking questions about what was mentioned before).
Key points reviewed: It is always good to re-cap what has been said so everyone is on the same page with what is going on.
This is a basic structure that could vary according to the type of meeting, but can help you have a solid and simple guideline. You have the freedom of adding or deleting sections from it.
4. Respect time.
Effective meetings always start and finish on time, and take only as long as they need to.
Let the participants know at what time you will start and finish and stick to the schedule. This is not the only activity they will be doing during the day, therefore if you go on longer than necessary, you are wasting their time.
If it helps you, even create a small run sheet that will help you have in mind how much time you will invest on each topic and if needed, mention it to the people.
Remember that when you respect their time, you respect them.
5. Choose an adequate meeting space.
Ideally, you would have a meeting room in your organisation, but this is not always the case.
There is nothing worse than having a meeting where there is too many people around, no one can hear what is being said , or you are too cold to concentrate because of the Air conditioner.
Whether you have a proper meeting room or not, these are some things that you need to look at when setting up / choosing a meeting place:
- Water availability
- Table/ Chairs
- Temperature of the room
- White Board/ Projector if needed
Creating a good meeting space will help the people focus and reduce distractions.
6. Meeting Minutes
Appoint someone who is present at the meeting to write meeting minutes, including what was discussed, who is in charge of what and the final decisions made.
Ideally this should be sent to everyone who was present at the meeting on the same day or the day after, so that they can go through the points and make sure they haven’t forgotten anything.
Just like a hammer, meetings can be a tool if you use them well, but also a pain if you fail to hit the nail and hit your finger instead.
Hopefully these tips will help you improve your meetings and meet your goals.
What else do you think could make a meeting effective?