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 more keys I use to run highly effective, internal meetings.
Key 1 : Assign Meeting Preparation
Give all participants something to prepare for the meeting, and that meeting will take on a new significance to each group member. For problem-solving meetings, have the group read the background information necessary to get down to business in the meeting. Ask each group member to think of one possible solution to the problem to get everyone thinking about the meeting topic. For example, to start a sales meeting on a positive note, have all participants recall their biggest success since the last meeting and ask one person to share his success with the group.
Key 2 : Assign Action Items
Don’t finish any discussion in the meeting without deciding how to act on it. Listen for key comments that flag potential action items and don’t let them pass by without addressing them during your meeting. Statements such as “We should really…” or “that’s a topic for a different meeting” or “I wonder if we could…”are examples of comments that should trigger action items to get a task done. Hold another meeting or further examine a particular idea. Assigning tasks and projects as they arise during the meeting means that your follow-through will be complete. Addressing off-topic statements during the meeting in this way also allows you to keep the meeting on track. By immediately addressing these statements with the suggestion of making an action item to examine the issue outside of the current meeting, you show meeting participants that you value their input as well as their time.
Key 3 : Examine Your Meeting Process
Assign the last few minutes of every meeting as time to review the following questions: What worked well in this meeting? What can we do to improve our next meeting? Every participant should briefly provide a point-form answer to these questions. Answers to the second question should be phrased in the form of a suggested action. For example, if a participant’s answer is stated as “Kudzi was winding in his contribution”, ask the participant to re-phrase the comment as an action. The statement “We should be more to-the-point when stating our opinions” is a more constructive suggestion. Remember – don’t leave the meeting without assessing what took place and making a plan to improve the next meeting!