With deadlines fast approaching, a full inbox of emails and the phone ringing off the hook, meetings are often the last thing we want to deal with during a hard day in the office. We might appreciate that they are necessary, but several hours of listening to others talk, disagreements amongst the team and walking away without any firm decisions or actions, can often leave us feeling like we’ve wasted our time.
We are sure we are not alone in thinking that there must be a way of creating more meaningful and productive meetings, so as not to inflict our teams (or in fact, ourselves) with the “meeting blues” and to actually achieve what we initially set out to do. It may seem painfully obvious, but a staggering number of meetings fail to meet their aims and objectives and as a result, the very mention of a meeting can fill the whole office with dread! More to the point, ineffective meetings will almost certainly be costing your business money.
With this is mind, we have pulled together some guidance and practical ideas on how to ensure your meetings are effective as possible and that you are making use of your office flipcharts and boardroom meeting areas and are communicating the old fashioned way:
Purpose of the Meeting – there is no point in holding a meeting for the sake of it. Make sure that there is a defined purpose and that all attendees are clear on this before they attend. At this stage it is also important to determine who needs to be in attendance and the duration of the meeting.
Develop an Agenda – this may seem an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many people fail to set an agenda beforehand. When developing the agenda be sure to ask attendees for comments and/or additions and plan to stick to the agenda set and any timescales allocated to each item.
Make sure the meeting has a chair and minute taker – The chair does not necessarily need to be the most senior person present (and it can sometimes work better if not) so consider alternating the chair if holding steering groups or team meetings. It is also important to ensure that a minute taker is present to record any decisions and actions that have been agreed.
Don’t lose sight of the purpose – All too often meetings drift and before you know it two hours have gone by and no decision has been made. If the purpose of the meeting was to make a decision on something – make sure you reach one!
Encourage participation – involve everyone, if possible, in any discussions that take place and consider asking members of your team to present ideas, for example, so that they can actively participate.
Evaluate – This can be a crucial step to determine how effective your meeting was and to consider what you can improve upon next time
Let us know of any other tips you have for creating successful meetings….