Helpful Tips For More Effective Meeting Strategies
It should be pretty obvious that effective meetings don’t just happen. That’s why they’ve earned such a terrible reputation as being a waste of time. And honestly, it’s no wonder.
While staff meetings will always be essential, far too many managers default to using an hour-long conference whenever they need to share new information with their teams when an email or a memo would do.
While most people never had any formal training in effective meeting processes, thankfully it’s a skill that anyone can learn to do and do it well. In reality, understanding how to organize and manage productive meetings is actually one of the most essential skills managers need to have.
Meetings can actually help teams work toward a common goal effectively so they can move forward together in a meaningful way. With that in mind, here are some of the most effective strategies to ensure your meetings are never a waste of everyone’s time.
Is a meeting needed?
Some managers schedule too many unnecessary team meetings because they view them as the only reliable method of collaboration. But this reliance on these types of meetings is one of the main reasons why they’ve become so stereotypically loathed.
In reality, it turns out that one of the most effective strategies to implement is cutting out all unnecessary meetings. Before planning your big meeting, work out if it can be avoided by information sharing via group message or email and achieving the same results.
If a meeting is absolutely necessary because your goals can’t be accomplished in any other way, it’s important to follow these tips to ensure the most effective use of meeting time.
Of course, everyone knows that time is money. So if you want people to regularly join your meetings, be sure that you always respect their individual schedules. That means setting firm start times for your business meetings, ensuring each attendee arrives at least 5 minutes early, and also ending them when you said you would.
By getting into the habit of always getting your meetings started on time, it will be much easier to keep the pace of your meetings on track. You also shouldn’t be waiting around for anyone who is running late, especially those habitual latecomers, because it’s unfair to those people who made an effort to show up on time.
This will send a clear message to team members that it’s their responsibility to be punctual for your meetings or they’ll miss out on important information. Meetings start on time to finish on time and then let people get promptly back to work.
Have a clear purpose
We’ve all been stuck in a meeting that never seems to end, and once it is over, we have no idea what it was actually about. That’s why one of the most important effective meeting guidelines is to have a clear agenda and purpose.
The point is to have your meeting prepared with an agenda for outcomes you hope to achieve in both actionable and results-oriented terms. By starting with a goal, you’ll always end with a successful meeting.
By taking the time to clearly define your meetings objective, you will also be able to document it for easy business communication between stakeholders. Providing attendees with the meeting agenda items in advance will give them the opportunity to come prepared which helps ensure a productive discussion during the meeting.
Keep it short
Time is always such a precious resource in business, so stakeholders won’t want to waste time on unnecessarily long meetings. This is when completion of a time management course really comes in handy.
When it comes to optimizing productivity and holding people’s attention, as well as respecting company time, every minute of your meeting matters. Remember that everything discussed in your meeting should always further the agenda, otherwise it’s unnecessary and shouldn’t be included.
As long as you have created a solid agenda for your meeting, 30 minutes should be all you ever need. By creating the topic points of your agenda so they can be discussed during a shorter meeting, you will help ensure everyone’s attention is sharp and their energy is focused on the discussion.
Besides, people will always appreciate it if you acknowledge how valuable their time is by scheduling shorter meetings.
Essential invitees only
When you’re deciding which team members need to be in your meetings, it’s important that everyone attending has something valuable they can bring to the table. That means you need to have a clear and valid reason for inviting every single person.
Remember that the main purpose of scheduling a meeting is for making decisions together, not simply sharing information. So the smaller your list of meeting attendees, the more effective your meeting will be.
When discussions end up going off-topic at a meeting, it usually ends up wasting time by dragging the session on too long. And by removing just two non-essential meeting participants from one 30 minute conference means you’re no longer wasting an hour of productive company time.
So before you start inviting team members to your next big meeting, always start by asking yourself if you’ll still be confident in achieving similar results with fewer invitees.
While one of the keys to run more effective meetings is organizing to have them in person at the office so they have a human touch, it’s also vital to include options for any remote workers.
Even if most of your team will be in the office on the day of your meeting, it’s still a good idea to make it accessible for any attendees who might prefer to join remotely. It’s always handy to have the option available for whenever meeting in the same room, city, state, time zone, or even country together is simply impossible.
With access to the latest in virtual video conferencing technology like Zoom, you can still create powerfully productive experiences at all of your meetings. This kind of screen-sharing software becomes so much more important as they allow all stakeholders to be visually included in all discussions, ensuring their focus is aligned on the same topic.
Not only are virtual meetings the next best thing to being in the same room, but they ensure your remote workers aren’t out of sight and out of mind.
Focus on results
If you want to be running effective meetings, it’s extremely important that you’re always laser focused on the results. Instead of settling for a ‘possibly’ or a ‘maybe’, you should never finish any meeting discussion without making a final decision for how to achieve the desired outcomes.
That way you can start assigning action steps to team members for all possible actions items as well as for the overall plans post-meeting.
Always push to generate action plans, best case ideas, or other recommendations that will end up solving the problem. Even if your meeting agenda doesn’t produce specific and actionable decisions on the day, you still need to follow up on it until a resolution has been reached.
If the meeting doesn’t actually produce any actual results, it was a pointless waste of time, energy, and company money.
Plan everything in advance
Learning how you can run an effective meeting involves planning everything carefully and then following through by inspiring team collaboration. In the end, workshopping solutions to problems will have a direct effect on team productivity. And you don’t have to graduate from Harvard University to understand that your team's overall happiness is what using effective meeting strategies is all about.