Meetings are a common way that businesses establish decisions, revamp procedures and make headway on projects. However, current statistics indicate that few meetings are as useful as they should be.
According to a network MCI Conferencing White Paper “Meetings in America,” 50 percent of meeting time is wasted. Per Jeffrey Scott Klubeck, contributor with Wolf Motivation, 39 percent of meeting attendees fall asleep during meetings, while another 73 percent claim they’ve brought non-meeting-related work to meetings.
Practice these strategies to make your meetings relevant, efficient and purposeful.
Before the meeting
Susan M. Heathfield with The Balance explains that the first step to having effective meetings is to decide whether you actually need a meeting. In some cases, you can accomplish the same goals with a more time-saving option, such as via email or posting a short note in the corporate newsletter.
It’s important to spend sufficient time preparing for a meeting beforehand, to ensure that the actual meeting is concise and effective. Klubeck recommends spending at least 28 minutes on pre-meeting organization and meeting set-up, since research indicates that preparation time is linked to productivity.
Create and send out a meeting agenda well in advance of the meeting to help focus the attendees and guide discussion. Neal Hartman, senior lecturer in managerial communication at MIT Sloan School of Management, recommends setting a specific time limit for each item on the agenda. This will ensure that you address each concern during the meeting, instead of focusing on just one or two.
During the meeting
The team at Project Management Hacks suggest asking a colleague to serve as a timekeeper during the meeting, to further promote efficiency during the session. You can also consider using a meeting minute service, such as Meeting.gs or LessMeeting, to make taking notes easier, as Alan Henry, contributor to Life Hacker, recommends.
Hartman advises that you stick to the agenda during the meeting. He also recommends keeping the meeting to a maximum of 60 minutes, to help boost employee concentration and sustain the group’s interest during the discussion.
Use the last few minutes of the meeting to establish action steps. Adam Bryant, with the New York Times, suggests assigning each task to a different team member with a set deadline for when the task should be completed. This will help ensure accountability and follow-through.
After the meeting
Make sure to send out the meeting minutes and associated action items to each attendee within 24 hours of the meeting, as articulated by Susan M. Heathfield with The Balance. It’s all too easy to forget certain instructions or details during a meeting, and many employees will wait for the meeting minutes before they start on the action items that they’re responsible for.
Follow up with the action items at the next meeting, to encourage follow-through by employees and to make sure the team is accomplishing the objectives of the last meeting.
By applying these insightful procedures, you can help boost the effectiveness of your next meeting while respecting the time and energy of your colleagues.