We all know that collaboration at work is inherently a good thing. But no one likes having their work day interrupted by mandatory meetings where nothing gets accomplished. If that’s a common occurrence at your company, use some of these suggestions at your next meeting to get more done.
Replace meetings with technology whenever possible. Today there are many other, more effective ways to communicate and assign tasks. Having fewer meetings means when you do need one, you can get more done. Use apps, instant messaging, video conferencing, e-mail, project management software, web based software and phone calls instead.
Respect Others’ Time
Employees often feel their time is better spent working instead of attending meeting, and often they’re right. Respecting others’ time can help change that. Combat waning attention spans and off topic discussions by making sure the meeting is only as long as necessary.
Have a purpose, an agenda, and an expected result. Meetings for the sake of meetings are obviously a bad idea. Once you have a legitimate reason for a meeting, planning and organization is key. Keep in mind what the result of the meeting should be and plan accordingly. Create an agenda and distribute it in advance so attendees can be prepared. This also communicates that it’s expected they come prepared, which helps everyone stay on track and actually accomplish something.
Start on Time
When you wait for latecomers, it implies there are no consequences for wasting time and being unproductive. That doesn’t set a good tone for the meeting. Those who are late are also sending the negative message that the meeting and the time of their co-workers isn’t important.
Schedule meetings only for a specific time. Have a specific block of time when meetings can happen or have a set schedule for recurring meetings, this keeps disruption of work to a minimum.
Run Your Meeting More Effectively
Start with the most important items. If you run out of time or something goes off track, you will have still covered the most important discussion points.
Make rules that need to be followed throughout the meeting as well. Ask that employees leave their cell phones and laptops at the door, or at least be turned off, to ensure that they pay attention and participate in discussions.
Have a Leader
It’s important to have a singular leader of the meeting, be it a manager, president or even the CEO. This allows attention to stay on one person, and won’t lead to confusion or disorganization during the meeting. Having many people stand up and sit down throughout the meeting can create a mess, and leads to loss of attention from the employees there to listen.
Brainstorming in Advance
If the meeting is to solve a problem or find new ideas, make sure attendees can brainstorm in advance. Use the meeting to evaluate those ideas together and find a solution.
Similarly, make sure to follow the agenda you’ve set for the meeting. Avoid having small asides within the meetings, or points that aren’t planned in advance; employees trying to take notes will find this difficult to follow, and there will be no formal trail of these additions when the meeting it over.
Keep it Interesting
Doing something different can help break up monotony, keep interest, and even help employees be more creative. Try holding the meeting somewhere outside of your office, like a formal conference space, restaurant or local gathering area.
Designate social time to allow employees to chat with one another prior to the meeting happening. Use the first 10 or 15 minutes as a social event before getting down to business, this can also keep chronic latecomers from creating a disruption.
Need more ideas for improving your meetings? Ask the people who attend them. It’s hard to solve a problem, if you don’t realize it’s a problem. Others may see something you don’t.