Do you feel like meetings eat up most of your time? It is hard to host productive meetings when there is no clear agenda, everyone is invited, and conversations turn into tangents. Follow these 5 steps to improve the productivity of your meetings.
Why is the meeting necessary? Is it something that can be discussed in a group email? Ideally, meetings should be no more than 30 minutes. At a maximum of 60 minutes. The shorter the meeting the easier it is to stay focused and move through it.
What is the goal of the meeting? What do you need to accomplish? What decisions need to be made? If you don’t have a clear goal to accomplish during the meeting, maybe the meeting needs to be postponed.
Who are the key decision makers that need to be present? Key decision makers may include people that need to authorize or sign-off on an action.
Of those attending the meeting what is their role? What are they responsible for? What will they need to prepare or bring to the meeting in order for the meeting’s goal to be met?
You DO NOT need to invite everyone to the meeting. Yes, it may be “nice” to have them present or have their input, but if their contribution holds no weight on the goal of the meeting they do not need to be invited.
The more people you have in attendance the more opinions you will have in the discussion. Thus more challenging to take action and achieve the goal of the meeting.
Create an outline of the topics to discuss prior to the meeting and email it to the attendees. If anyone is presenting during the discussion make a note of their place
Creating and sharing an agenda in advance helps set clear expectations for the meeting of what will be discussed and the goal. This allows attendees to ideally come prepared thus increasing the productivity of the meeting.
- Start the meeting promptly on time. This means 9:00 am not 9:05 am. If you wait for people you are subtly saying it is “ok” to be tardy. In addition, it eats time away from your meeting and achieving the goal.
- It is your responsibility to keep the conversation on task. This means eliminating tangents and being mindful of the clock. (EXAMPLE: “Thank you for your feedback/comment. Let’s make sure we focus on the agenda so we can achieve our meeting goal today of XXXX”) Having an agenda and being aware of the time is important for moving the discussion forward.
If during the course of conversation something new arises that needs to be discussed further then make a note of it. It can be discussed at the end of the meeting if there is time or tabled for the next meeting.
(EXAMPLE: “Thank you for your feedback/comment. I would love to discuss it in detail. Let’s do that after the meeting.”)
- End the meeting promptly on time. It is easy to get caught up in great conversation especially when creativity is flowing. However, it is important to be respectful of everyone’s time and their own schedules. Many will have appointments and projects scheduled after the meeting and as a leader, it is important to respect their time too.
What needs to be completed to confirm the meeting goal was met? Sending a summary of the conversations and key decisions made helps keep everyone on the same page. It also reconfirms what was decided and gives everyone a paper trail.
If there were conversations that were tabled during the meeting you can respond to them directly via email or a quick call. Or you can add them to the agenda for the next meeting pending the importance.
I bookend my meetings with 15-30 minutes. The time before allows me to come prepared and be fully present so I can best serve those attending. The time after allows me to finish typing up any notes from the meeting while I am still in the “flow” and send off action emails as needed.
This habit of building in time has a positive impact on my productivity. Plus it allows me to better serve my team and clients because I am present and prompt.