Think about the last meeting you had. Was it productive? Did you feel like a vital part of the proceedings? Did you take away anything valuable or actionable after it was over? I’d be willing to bet you answered ‘no’ to at least one of those questions.
Meetings have earned a bad rap because many of them are a waste of time. A survey of 500 office workers by officebroker.com found that UK employees spend around 16 hours per week in meetings, and 25 percent of that time (about 4 hours) is wasted. So how can we change that?
Here is a list of do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when you are planning your next meeting so you can have a fulfilling, efficient session.
Any meeting worth having needs prep work: you need to sit down and visualise exactly what you want to gain from it. A meeting that’s hastily thrown together won’t be half as productive as it could be.
Do make a meeting agenda: write down why you’re holding the meeting, who needs to get involved and what you want to achieve from the session. Create an agenda template to save time planning for regular meetings.
Don’t rush through this process. If you end up putting together a sloppy meeting with vague goals and attendees that don’t really need to be there, you’re hindering productivity.
This is one of the most important aspects of any meeting. Work time is already a precious commodity, so you must keep your meetings concise so everyone can get back to their actual tasks at hand.
Do designate a timekeeper, especially for a long or particularly complicated meeting. This will help keep the group driven and focused, especially during those Friday afternoon meetings that often turn into a collective musing about what to do for the upcoming weekend.
Don’t run overtime. Even if your set goals haven’t been achieved, end it on-time and re-evaluate. Learn where things went astray so you can better prepare for your next one.
The modern workplace has come to depend on virtual communication, and more companies are realising the convenience of videoconferencing technology. Webcams and screen-sharing capabilities help make these meetings more accessible and productive.
Do use mute wisely, especially on a conference call without video. While the grind of nearby construction work or the chatter of other employees’ conversations is not something that everyone else on the call wants to hear, overusing the mute button can take away your focus from the meeting. In a face-to-face meeting, you would never carry on side conversations, move about the room or multitask. Using the mute button can lead to distractions and prevent a lively, productive meeting from happening.
Don’t leave anyone out. Make sure that every person in the call has an active role in the discussion (this should be outlined in your meeting agenda). This will help connect the participants and create a team atmosphere, which is especially important in a virtual meeting. You don’t want anyone to sit silently and feel left out.
Wrap-up work is just as important as prep work when it comes to executing a productive meeting.
Do create a follow-up to the meeting. Include a brief summary of what was discussed, what was achieved and what needs to happen at the next one.
Don’t forget to include actionable points. Assign tasks to individuals and set a due date in order to ensure that the meeting wasn’t a waste of time.
Although putting together a successful meeting might seem like a lot of work, if you put in the effort, it will be worth it. Follow these simple steps and you won’t have to roll your eyes every time a meeting invite pings into your inbox.
Photo credits: HA0521-036