Meetings are an evil necessity. Workers must take time from their busy days for sessions that are all too often unproductive and disengaging. Meetings are supposed to be extremely valuable opportunities to work as a team at a designated time and place but all too often are unorganized nuisances. Here are some tips to run effective business meetings that will boost productivity rather than take away from time that could have been spent more productively.
Plan, plan, and plan ahead of time
This goes for everybody. Supervisors or team leaders should have a set agenda working toward a predetermined goal. Meetings should be rigidly structured and time should be allotted for specific points of discussion. The more advance notice, the better — have an agenda prepared the day before so team members can prepare as well, and the expectation should be made clear that they should attend well prepared for the topics at hand.
Stick to a schedule
Start meetings on time and end on time, if not early. Certainly try hard not to run over on time because that is the easiest way to have team members start watching the clock and stop paying attention and contributing to discussion. This is tied to the planning aspect: make sure your expectations for what will be covered in the time allotted are realistic. Also, do not schedule meetings for inconvenient times such as the end of the day. Mid-morning right before lunch is a good time, but try to ask team members for what works best for the majority.
Do not stray off topic
Your agenda should be followed, so do not allow anything not on that agenda to enter into discussion unless absolutely relevant and necessary. Staying on topic will make for meetings that are more efficient, productive, and useful, and that are well worth your team members’ time and yours. Get down to business and dig in to the topics at hand, and nothing more.
Do not hold unnecessary meetings
If there really is nothing new to talk about, you do not have to hold a meeting for the sake of having one. It’s a waste of time and only reinforces that meetings are pointless and unproductive. If an e-mail works just as well, send one out; face time is not always essential.
Write it down
Have a white board or something large to write on to put down new goals and ideas. Having something in writing motivates people to recognize that what was discussed in the meeting will happen, and that it needs to happen. Also, have someone keep minutes and send it out to all team members post-meeting. Recapping is always welcomed by team members to remember what was discussed and decided and serves to underscore the ideas presented and goals made while together.
Decide on what’s next
Be sure to have new goals and steps to take to reach these objectives decided at the meeting’s conclusion. Assign tasks to be undertaken and deadlines for them to be completed. If possible, detail a vague idea of what the next meeting will entail so everyone knows what to work toward — again, there can never be too much planning. This ensures that meetings stay productive and are viewed as such because actual actions will be expected to be taken after everyone has gone back to work.