I have worked in a few organizations that used have long, unproductive meetings and this is sometimes an epidemic common in most businesses. When I started my own enterprises I vowed never to waste time in unproductive meetings. Underneath I share 3 keys I use to run highly effective, internal meetings.
Key 1: Don’t Meet
Avoid a meeting if the same information could be covered in a memo, e-mail or brief report. One of the keys to having more effective meetings is differentiating between the need for one-way information dissemination and two-way information sharing. To disseminate information you can use a variety of other communication media, such as sending an e-mail or posting the information on your company’s portal. If you want to be certain you have delivered the right message, you can schedule a meeting to simply answer questions about the information you have sent. By remembering to ask yourself, “Is a meeting the best way to handle this?” you’ll cut down on wasted meeting time and restore your group’s belief that the meetings they attend are necessary.
Key 2: Set Objectives for the Meeting
Set objectives before the meeting! Before planning the agenda for the meeting, write down a phrase or several phrases to complete the sentence: By the end of the meeting, I want the group to… Depending on the focus of your meeting, your ending to the sentence might include phrases such as: …have generated three ideas for increasing our sales…understand the way we do business with customers…leave with an action plan or …solve the design on our package problem.
One benefit of setting objectives for the meeting is to help you plan the meeting. The more concrete your meeting objectives, the more focused your agenda will be. A second important benefit of having specific objectives for each meeting is that you have a concrete measure against which you can evaluate that meeting. Were you successful in meeting the objectives? Why or why not? Is another meeting required? Setting meeting objectives allows you to continuously improve your effective meeting process.
Key 3. Provide an Agenda Beforehand
Provide all participants with an agenda before the meeting starts. Your agenda needs to include a brief description of the meeting objectives, a list of the topics to be covered and a list stating who will address each topic and for how long. When you send the agenda, you should include the time, date and location of the meeting and any background information participants will need to know to hold an informed discussion on the meeting topic. What’s the most important thing you should do with your agenda? Follow it closely!
Meeting Tips Summary
Avoid a meeting if the same information could be covered in a memo, e-mail or brief report.
Set Objectives for the Meeting
Before planning the agenda, determine the objective of the meeting. The more concrete your objectives, the more focused your agenda will be.
Provide an Agenda Beforehand
Your agenda needs to include a one-sentence description of the meeting objectives, a list of the topics to be covered and a list stating who will address each topic for how long. Follow the agenda closely during the meeting.