So what can you do to make the most of your meetings? Here are 5 tips to make them more productive.
1. Have an agenda
Every meeting should have a clear agenda prepared beforehand. Everyone should know the goals of the meeting in advance, so they can be prepared and help achieve them. This will also help you not deviate from the topics on the agenda.
2. Decide who will be invited to the meeting
After you have a clear agenda, the next step is to decide who should attend the meeting. It is very tempting to invite more people than needed, but this will actually slow down the decision-making process.
You should only invite those who really need to be there. Understanding employees’ roles and responsibilities can make this process easier. Ultimately, you can simply ask the person, “do you need to attend this meeting?”
3. Start on time
Starting meetings on time is critical. If you are leading a meeting and you decide to wait for someone to start it, what message are you conveying? You are saying that the time of the latecomer is more important than everybody else’s time. It is really disrespectful to those who arrive on time.
Besides, this is negative reinforcement. If the person who arrives late feels they haven’t missed anything, they will probably do it again. On the other hand, if you start the meeting on time and discuss some important issue right in the beginning, they will think twice before arriving late.
4. Set rules
Defining rules in the beginning of the meeting can be helpful. You should all agree that only one person will speak at a time and all participants will stay on track.
There can also be a rule against multitasking, like answering phone calls, texting, or using the laptop during the meeting. You should think of any rules that could be important for a productive meeting.
5. Wrap up the meeting with a summary and follow up
The meeting should end with a very brief discussion of what was achieved and the next steps. For every action item, there must be someone responsible for it and a deadline. Make sure that everyone agreed on and understood the tasks that were assigned to them. Put someone in charge of recording action items and sharing them with the participants after the meeting.
Though each person should be held accountable for their assigned tasks, some people might forget about them and need to be reminded, so don’t forget to follow up.
What is your experience with meetings? Do you have any other tips that you would like to share?