Many people in workplaces all over have suffered through far too many unproductive meetings where nothing is accomplished. We go in circles discussing topics that are irrelevant and are unable to reach any conclusions. Consequently, we get nothing out of these types of meetings making them wastes of our precious time.
Meetings can be very helpful at keeping you and your team updated and to make sensible decisions:
Your team receives first hand information about progress, requirements, next steps and goals of the organisation or the team itself.
Moreover, you can find out what your employees need, which parts of their work is causing them trouble and what parts of the team work well.
You can reach decisions through discussion and making a joint decision will leave your employees feeling engaged and as part of the company. The decisions you make will improve as you take into account the opinions of others. After all, four eyes see more clearly than just two, and eight see even more.
So overall, meetings are rather useful. But if not done well, they eat away your time with pointless discussions and overly long conversations making you feel unproductive and exhausted.
So how can you improve your meetings’ productivity? Read on to find out.
Plan in advance
Define the objectives of your meeting and send out an agenda in advance. Include topics to be discussed and the time needed for each. Make sure to keep meetings brief, 45 minutes to 60 minutes should be the maximum as concentration and attention drop if meetings are too long.
Do not include too many topics. If there are too many topics to be discussed, organise multiple meetings rather than one overly intense one.
Keep attendants numbers low to increase your meetings’ effectiveness. The fewer people and the fewer topics, the more effective your meeting.
Demand attendants to be on time, maybe even forbid latecomers to come in after the meeting has started unless a reason was given in advance.
Every late attendee interrupts the flow of the meeting, getting all other members distracted.
Ensure your meeting does not start as another meeting is ending (e.g. on the hour). Attendants of both meetings should have at least 10 minutes in between to grab a glass of water and to take a quick break so that they are focused when the second meeting begins.
Send out invitations well in advance whenever possible so invitees can prepare beforehand.
Restrict time per topic
Stick to the times you set in your agenda. If one specific topic seems to require significantly more time than expected, organise a new meeting for it or deal with it at the end after a short break so that you are able to stick to your agenda in regards to the other topics discussed.
If you followed advice number 2 correctly only people who are really relevant for the discussion are present so following time plan should be easier.
Let others talk
Avoid monologues. Projects and conflicts should be discussed rather than lectured about so listen to all relevant opinions on the matter. Everyone should be encouraged to participate and all voices should be listened to.
Keep everyone focused by avoiding all possible interruptions. Ask employees to attend without mobile phones and laptops. One phone ringing or buzzing is enough to interrupt everyone’s focus. As you eliminate attendants opportunity to take notes, ensure to provide a summary of the meeting afterwards.