There is a lot of advice out there on the best ways to run an efficient and successful meeting. Some of the books and seminars available are excellent, and I definitely recommend checking them out if you have the time. But, given that so many of us can’t find the time in our schedules to even attend all the meetings we should be at, much less read about them, I’d like to offer three quick tips that could cut your meeting time in half, while still making them twice as impactful:
- Set an agenda and schedule. This will let people come more prepared to contribute. Too many meetings are called without a firm purpose in place; let everyone know beforehand exactly what you plan on discussing or resolving, and then stick to a definite ending time.
- Focus on a single problem or issue if possible. You don’t want meandering discussions that don’t go anywhere, and the best way to avoid that is by focusing on one thing at a time. Trying to tackle too many issues in a single meeting doesn’t let you finish more, it usually stops you from making any progress on any of the items being discussed.
- Follow-up with the agreed-upon next steps. The last thing you want is to have to hold more meetings on the same topic, so keep everyone on the same page moving forward. It’s never a bad idea to send a quick summary of what was discussed to the meeting participants – and possibly to other team members who couldn’t make it. Also be sure, once you have agreement on the next action steps, that you follow up on the results. Many, many meetings could be avoided if people simply did what they said they would the first time around.
Meetings can be a great way to get a project moving forward, or an enormous drain on your team’s schedule. Our time management seminars discuss how the difference is usually in the way they are set up, run, and acted upon. Follow these tips and you might soon find that you and your colleagues are looking forward to meetings, not running from them.