Raise your hand if you love random meetings!
Okay, then, raise your hand if you love weekly team meetings. Quarterly check-in meetings? Project review meetings? Obligatory mystery meetings?
If you’re like most people, you don’t get excited about seeing your calendar fill up with hours and hours of meetings. And you’re probably frustrated with the lack of preparation, organization, progress, and productivity that goes into them.
Not all meetings are bad
But a lot of meetings are. Which is unfortunate, because it really doesn't take much effort to create a good one.
There are dozens of ways to improve meetings, but let’s start with three key things you can start doing right now to make your meetings more productive and less painful.
1.) Meet because you need to, not because it’s time
Just because there is a meeting on the schedule doesn’t mean it needs to happen.
Don’t waste everyone’s time by holding meetings out of habit or obligation, and never call a meeting that doesn’t have a defined purpose or outcome. Having a meeting simply because it's the second Friday of the month isn’t just inefficient and unproductive. It’s annoying.
When to have a meeting:
- Your team is working collectively to achieve a specific, defined objective
- There are important updates to communicate, and it can’t easily be done via email
- The meeting content is educational and will better prepare each attendee to be more successful in his/her role
When not to have a meeting:
- It’s Tuesday, and you always meet on Tuesdays
- You like getting everyone together just to catch up
- Someone brought doughnuts
If you’re going to take your people away from their desks and into a conference room, don’t pull a Michael Scott. You’ve got to make it count.
- Make sure there are worthy objectives to achieve by the end of the meeting.
- Communicate those objectives when scheduling your meeting and remind everyone of your purpose when the meeting starts.
- Schedule appropriate blocks of time based on the objectives at hand, and end the meeting early if you’ve achieved them.
Tip: Meetings don’t automatically need default to an hour. If you’ve got 20 minutes of material to cover, schedule 20 minutes.
2.) Give your meeting the structure it deserves
Never ask people to come to a meeting without explaining in reasonable detail what will happen when they get there.
Not only does this force the facilitator to prepare beforehand, it lets each attendee know what they need to do to contribute and benefit from the meeting. Your agenda doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as a few bullet points. It does, however, need to be relevant.
Tip: Going around the room and letting everyone talk for 5 or 10 minutes is NOT an agenda. If you like these kinds of meetings, consider starting a book club or joining a support group.
3.) Hold your attendees (and yourself) accountable
Get confirmation on who is coming to the meeting before it happens. Everyone on the invite list should be critical to the objectives. If one key person is missing, your meeting could be a total waste of time. If you know that essential participants won’t be there, you can cancel the meeting ahead of time and spare everyone the pain.
You should also hold people at the end of your meeting. Before everyone gets up and walks out the door, get verbal confirmation from each attendee objectives were met. Make sure everyone understands and commits to following up with any required tasks and takeaways.
Tip: Meeting attendees aren't there to be entertained. They are there to participate and contribute. Ask them if they got what they expected out of the meeting, and confirm what they will do as a result.
Make the most of your time together
If you’re fuming over the horrible meetings you have to attend on a regular basis, you may need to take a look in the mirror.
- Are you showing up unprepared?
- Scheduling meetings just because?
- Failing to provide clear schedules and agendas?
- Taking more time than you need?
If so, your colleagues, prospects, and clients could be feeling the same way about the meetings you’re having with them.
Following these three simple guidelines will significantly improve your workplace meeting attitudes, experiences, and outcomes. And who doesn’t want a little bit of that?
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Photo by Wavebreak Media Ltd