Ask yourself if you have ever been in any of the following scenarios:
- Being asked to join a meeting without knowing the purpose
- Sitting in a meeting for 2 hours, when it was only meant to be 30 minutes
- Leaving a meeting without a clear solution or follow-up actions
- Your manager just calls for an ad-hoc meeting with the entire team
- Finishing a one-hour meeting and being more confused than you were before
If you have answered ‘yes’ to one of the scenarios above, then you’ve probably fallen victim to an inefficient meeting. So, what makes meetings more productive?
Have an agenda and make sure it is CLEAR
A meeting without an agenda is like trying to navigate your way with a blind-fold on. You WILL get lost. However, a disorganised agenda could lead to a similar outcome.
In any meeting, clarity is of the utmost importance and a clear agenda will pave the way for an effective meeting. By providing an agenda, you allow your team members to prepare in advance, so that issues are tackled from the first minute. By stating the discussion items beforehand, one reduces the opportunity for unrelated topics to arise in the meeting. Time is of the essence!
Choose who NEEDS to be in the meeting
Having a meeting is not a time for team-bonding and hence, not everyone in the department or team needs to be present. Each person who joins the meeting is sacrificing valuable time to be there, which could be spent elsewhere. Always ask yourself these questions when choosing your attendees:
- Who will be involved in the project moving forward?
- Who is in the best position to help the team arrive at a decision?
Anyone who does not fit in either category should NOT be in the meeting.
Decide on and STICK to the meeting time
Meetings often take longer than is necessary. By restricting your meeting time, you ensure you focus only on the most essential items within the limited timeframe. Attendees will also understand that there is no time for casual chit-chat and therefore will need to be well-prepared prior to joining the meeting to make meaningful contributions. Stick to the meeting time and make it a habit. Your employees will too.
Conclude with ACTION items
A worst-case scenario would be making great progress during one meeting, but when you meet one week later, you realise that no one has taken any action. There was no accountability. Always ensure that each action-item has been assigned to someone specific and ensure this person knows they have that responsibility. This will ensure no tasks are left hanging.
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