Meetings often have a reputation for wasting time and sucking the energy out of the attendees. An in many cases, meetings may have a tendency to drag on longer than necessary and fail to deliver actual results. However, there are things that can be done to correct this problem and get the most of your meetings. Here are a few ways you can make business meetings more productive and meaningful.
Make the Purpose Clear
Every meeting should have a clear purpose. Review the purpose of every meeting you hold, and cancel those that are losing their value or are no longer needed. Don’t assume that regular status meetings are a necessity. Daily and weekly status meetings may not be necessary in a world where you can post schedules online and email entire groups the same message. Furthermore, you should state the purpose of the meeting at the start. This helps people stay on topic.
Work Towards Constant Improvement
Meetings should start with a planned outcome, though it may be as vague as solving a specific problem or improving performance in a particular department. The goals of the meeting can include determining a solution, taking action to solve the problem, or assigning tasks necessary for the day to day operation of the business. If this isn’t happening in your meetings, you may want to look at organization design consulting solutions from a company like onthemark.com. They can look at the state of your current structure, how it could be improved, and then work with you to alter work processes to align with overarching business objectives.
Ban the Content that Make Meetings Too Long
A number of organizations have made meetings much shorter by banning multiple page memos. The presentations should focus on the key information that needs to be shared. Let those who choose to do so read the longer multi-page memos on their own time. A few companies have gone farther and banned the classic PowerPoint slides in favour of narrative storytelling. This makes the presentation more engaging while forcing the presenter to limit their presentation to the key information while communicating its importance and relevance to the audience or the end user. Ask people to keep their laptops closed and phone screens down so that everyone can stay focused on the discussion.
One way to make meetings more productive is to require participation. Don’t wait for people to provide feedback. And don’t let one or two people dominate the conversation. Solicit feedback and recommendations from everyone. Do this at every meeting, and it will drive participants to prepare answers and pay attention to the presentation. If you don’t think many of the attendees don’t have anything to add, don’t invite them next time.
However, you need to be careful to avoid groupthink. Don’t ignore, exclude or shut down someone with a contrary opinion. This may be the corrective feedback required to keep group consensus on track or the warning that you’ll wish you heeded after the project failed. You can facilitate this interaction by asking for feedback from everyone and then waiting. Speak last to either address concerns or summarize the actions to be taken by those leaving the meeting. This prevents you from stretching out the meeting by essentially having a conversation with everyone present.
Meetings often have a reputation for wasting time and getting in the way of work being done. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you follow these simple instructions, you’ll be able to streamline the whole process, get actual results, and make sure that your meetings increase employee engagement instead of sapping it.