We all value our time. It’s not like money—there aren’t other ways to create more. So why do we call meetings just for the sake of having a meeting or take precious working hours to sit in a boardroom and shoot the breeze?
Meetings are necessary in business, but they don’t have to be the bane of our existence. While bad meetings drive us crazy, good meetings can inspire and motivate employees. Gretchen Rubin, author of best-seller The Happiness Project, recalled a friend that worked at the Department of Justice. Rubin’s friend once told her, “Jamie Gorelick runs a meeting so well, it brings tears to my eyes.”
That’s the goal.
Conducting productive meetings takes skill. I’ve compiled a list of traits that all productive meetings have. Of course this list isn’t comprehensive, but you’re headed in the right direction if you can check these off at your next meeting.
Meetings Need A Purpose
Make sure the meeting has a purpose and is communicated to every person attending the gathering.
Glenn Parker, the author of Meeting Excellence: 33 Tools to Lead Meetings That Get Results, told Inc.com, “Don’t just have a meeting because it’s Tuesday or don’t just have a meeting because you haven’t had one in a month and you feel like you should.”
Those types of meetings are definitely a waste of time. Other alternatives: give this time to your sales staff to make calls to prospective clients, meet with employees one on one to learn about issues they face, or cut your staff a break if they’ve been working overtime.
Meetings Need Agendas
Agendas set expectations. They communicate what materials people need to bring with them, what they will be doing and what needs to get done. They also force you to organize and prioritize.
Giving out an agenda at the beginning of a meeting is not nearly as effective as circulating it the day before. This requires earlier preparation on your part, but that will help your employees be as prepared as possible, which is more likely to result in a productive meeting.
Meetings Need Schedules and Time Limits
Meetings can’t go on forever. At certain points, everybody’s interest about the topic and energy levels decrease. Even if you don’t accomplish your goal, you still need to end the meeting when you say you will.
If the meeting is on the long side, allow 10 or 15-minute breaks for phone calls, emails and recharging during the meeting.
Meetings Need No Distractions
No calls, no emails, no texts during the meeting. Besides being rude, those distractions jeopardize the meeting’s goal getting accomplished.
Think about the last meeting you were at when a person left to take a call or picked up their phone because it buzzed. Did you need information about their department when they were gone? Could they have contributed a new idea or viewpoint? Or worse, did you actually have to pause the meeting until they returned or finished reading an email?
Distractions are disrespectful of others’ time and interrupt the flow of meetings. As mentioned above, allow for phone and email breaks in longer meetings.
What other techniques have you found to be helpful when conducting effective meetings? Please share them with us, as I’m sure everyone would like to hear new ideas to improve productivity.
Photo courtesy of Accretion Disc on Flickr under the Creative Commons.
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