15 Ways to Make Your Meeting More Productive
The #1 timewaster for many businesses is meetings. Not too many people walk around with signs saying they want more meetings. Meetings can be pretty expensive. During your next meeting, add up the hourly cost of every person in that room. Then imagine if you owned your own business and are writing a check for that meeting. If the money came out of your pocket, would you even have the meeting at all?
Recently, I held a best practice on meeting management with a professional association. Below are the most important tips the group decided on to improve the productivity of meetings.
Is the meeting even needed? Might there be another way to communicate the information?
When leading the meeting, state the purpose of the meeting.
State the outcomes of the meetings. In other words, what decisions or tasks do you hope to have accomplished to fulfill your purpose.
Invite the people who can contribute to your outcomes. If they cannot attend-postpone the meeting.
When scheduling the meeting, keep in mind, before lunch and Friday afternoons are the least productive times to hold a meeting.
Have and use an agenda. An agenda is a list of all the meeting topics, who will be speaking, and the amount of time fitted for each topic.
Assign a tracker. A tracker is a person who will help the leader of the meeting stay on the agenda. The tracker might ask, “Is that something we want to discuss today or put on the agenda for next week?”
Assign a person to record meeting outcomes or decisions made. The meeting leader will note when a meeting outcome needs to be documented. Meeting minutes can be as simple as, “What has to be done; Who is doing it; and When it will be done by.” Example: Shelly will gather more facts regarding customer complaints and turn them over to IT by March 2nd.
Start the meeting on time. If you are worried that not all people will arrive on time, I encourage the meeting leader to start with less critical agenda items. By doing so, it is a compromise between people who got to the meeting on time and potential latecomers.
The meeting leader can use the relay question technique to get participants engaged and involved. Example: “What do you think, Bill?” Example: “We have been hearing a lot of Dave; I would like to hear from you, Keith?”
Feel free to use time limits when asking for input? Example: “I would like to hear from all of you- you got 20 seconds to summarize your thoughts…if you feel like you have nothing to same, simply say pass.”
Refrain from bringing any criticism to participants’ ideas that are presented. Allowing criticism once ideas are delivered will cause some people to shut down and not offer input for fear of being critiqued in front of the rest of the group. Once all ideas have been spoken, then ask for feedback.
Keep side conversations to a minimum by asking if there is something you can clarify?
At the end of the meeting, ask the person assigned to record the meeting minutes/outcomes to summarize all the actions.
End the meeting on time and then ask for input afterward on how you can improve the meeting.
So, the next time you are about to press SEND on a meeting invitation, be sure you are prepared. Your participants will be grateful.