That was a sheer waste of time! How many times have you got out of a meeting or call thinking exactly this? Whether it is sales or business or delivery, we spend a large part of our working lives attending or facilitating group discussions, jumping from one to the other all the while worrying when to get some “actual” work done. Wouldn’t it be great if all meetings could be productive enough to fall into the category of “actual” work?
There are a few simple planning steps that can be taken to ensure that you step out of a meeting or call feeling satisfied instead of frustrated. Here are five reminders on the basics of being organized and prepared for meetings to increase effectiveness and productivity:
Reminder #1: Publish an agenda beforehand – Let the participants know what the goal of the meeting is and what is expected to be accomplished at the end of the meeting before you schedule it. Share relevant data that will prepare the participants on the topic and aid a quick convergence. This will also prevent discussions and debates on new information being presented during the meeting and allow people to be focused on the goal. As someone wise once said – the Main thing is to keep the Main thing the Main thing!
Reminder #2: Set Time limits and Encourage Punctuality – You don’t want seven people sitting around chatting and waiting for the eighth person to join. Or running out of time before you reach the decision stage of the meeting. Or the delay in having to schedule another meeting to close on the first meeting. Set a time slot and ask people to send their empowered representatives if they will be unable to attend or be delayed in joining. Track and make people aware of the time limits during the meeting so that you stay on schedule.
Reminder #3: Have the setup ready – This is about the tools and infrastructure not letting you down and eating into your meeting time. Do you have enough sitting space for everyone? Do you have the projector or handouts ready? Is the conference bridge working and of good quality? Is it a distraction free zone? Is there enough coffee? Little things matter – you need everyone focused on the discussion.
Reminder #4: Allow everyone to speak – People have been invited to a meeting or call because they are qualified to contribute on the topic. Give everyone time to voice their view points. Nothing is more annoying than trying to make yourself heard in a cacophony of voices. Don’t interrupt when someone else is speaking or speak so much that no one else gets a chance to provide their inputs.
Reminder #5: Share Meeting Minutes and Actionables – Summarize on the main points of the meeting just before you conclude. This provides everyone a view of what was accomplished and what is pending and allows for suggestions on next steps. Write these down and circulate among the participants after the meeting. Not only do you get a record of what was discussed for future reference but also a forum to ensure that any pending items get attention for tracking and closure.
What steps do you take make your meetings and calls more productive? I would love to hear back from you.