10 Tips For Running Effective Meetings
We all know that one person; they are the first to arrive at work and the last to leave. They are always on time for meetings, and they make sure not to miss any of them. They like their coffee black (or with one sugar) and dislike any interruptions during their production time (which is basically every minute of their life). Yes; this is my version of an office superhero.
Workplace superheroes often boast about how much more productive they are than most people around them, but still think that their efforts aren’t appreciated enough. Despite receiving praise from everyone in the company for being so dedicated to their job, these superheroes can sometimes feel underappreciated if you notice a lack of super-heroic results coming out of their work.
Effective meetings are essential to the health of any company, but not everyone has a natural talent for the organization. There are some simple tricks that you can employ in order to make your meetings seem more productive, without actually increasing output or quality of work at all.
Even if your team is full of chatterboxes, the less that you talk in a meeting, the more that they can concentrate on what needs to be done. If someone’s talking mostly about themselves without including any relevant information for the meeting at hand, cut them off early and often by making short points throughout.
Talking less will make your team want to say something important enough to actually take up some time — don’t let anyone get away with rambling or repeating themselves (even if it happens more than once). Avoid allowing an informal conversation to develop during a formal setting; keep things moving along smoothly and professionally.
If someone important comes into your company; do you want them thinking “Wow; never on time for anything” or “Well; at least they always start meetings on time’? If you want to be the awe-inspiring one in the room, then you need to set an example of your punctuality. Being late for a meeting will just annoy everyone else who was on time and waiting around for you!
Be conscious of other people’s time
Being late for a meeting isn’t necessarily a sign of disrespect, but constantly being late is. If someone has been waiting outside your office or conference room, don’t keep them waiting any longer than necessary after calling a start to the meeting. Not only does it show respect towards them as a person but it also shows that you are attempting to work within their schedule as well as yours.
Everyone gets 5 minutes each
This may seem like taking meetings very slowly, but it actually makes them go a lot faster for everyone involved. When you follow this method, the group doesn’t sit around wondering if their time will ever come to talk. Everyone gets a set period of time where they can say what is on their mind and any other points that need to be considered are also discussed in an equal fashion.
Stick to the agenda
Creating an agenda may take more time than just winging a meeting off the top of your head, but it will stop you from going off-topic completely. If everyone knows what is going to happen before they attend, then there is no room for getting side-tracked or going into lengthy discussions about one thing when there are only ten minutes left until lunch break.
Keep the meeting focused
No matter how interesting you find one of your co-worker’s anecdotes, they can’t be allowed to dominate a meeting with their specific stories. If someone moves away from the topic of conversation then they need to be interrupted and brought back on topic as soon as possible so everyone else knows where they are at in the discussion.
Stop people dominating the conversation
Yes; I know that this is awkward, but sometimes you just have to say it! Don’t try and act like you haven’t noticed that Brian has become louder than everyone else or that Johnny keeps interrupting his co-workers when he speaks. No matter how good your listening skills are, there will always be times when only a quiet word will do.
Don’t be argumentative for the sake of being argumentative
If you have a disagreement with someone, then fine; air your grievances in the meeting and let everyone know what you think may be wrong. However, getting into an argument just to win either doesn’t help anyone or it completely undermines the other person’s opinion without actually offering anything better yourself. If you feel like there is another way of resolving an issue, bring up your concerns but don’t try and knock someone down simply because they see things differently from you.
Leave on time
Many meetings that seem too long are only too long because they keep running over their scheduled time slot! As soon as you can, make sure that everyone knows how much more time is left in the meeting. A little preparation beforehand can save you from this situation leaving no room for one of your co-workers to suggest that we keep going ‘just another 5 minutes’.
Discuss and note action points after the meeting
Hopefully; everyone will know what they said was agreed on and you’ll be able to move on (not forgetting anything important!). Sometimes though; it’s good practice to re-iterate the task at hand and allow people to ask questions if they weren’t there or didn’t fully understand their job when it was assigned.
If everyone knows what needs doing, then you won’t need any annoying constant reminders throughout the day (or worse; team meetings!). If something changes in terms of an action point, then everyone will know why the meeting is being called again.
When To Hold A Meeting
You may not be able to answer this question but some people think that meetings can be called for everything and anything; while others only think they should meet when the need arises.
If you want to run effective meetings, then you could look at these as suggestions:
– When everyone’s together in the same physical or virtual room
– Before a team activity or challenging period of work
– To prepare for a presentation or major visit from senior staff
– When it would be helpful to brainstorm ideas online first and come up with them face-to-face later on
– If there is something difficult that needs discussing and resolving first. This makes sure that nobody faces an awkward conversation alone if it should happen.
– To discuss any complaints or issues and agree on a solution first. This includes discussing how to approach the problem and what should happen if other people join in with it too.
– Before making important decisions over something that will affect the whole team (e.g. buying new computers).
How Long Should A Meeting Be?
Everyone needs to know what time their meeting ends as well as what time it begins. The worst thing is when you’re halfway through your agenda and then someone mentions that there are only 20 minutes left before it has to end! It completely throws off your concentration and makes for an unproductive meeting if that’s all you can talk about from here on out (not remembering anything else!).
On average, most people say that 30-minute long meetings are the best but it really depends on what you’re planning to talk about. If everything is just a quick point then 10 minutes might suffice whereas if you’re going to be discussing something complicated for an hour then 1 hour may not be enough! Meetings should always end on time and give everyone enough time to finish their own work afterwards (or come up with any new action points).
How Should You Begin?
Think of what you want your meeting to achieve; maybe it’s how this project compares with similar ones in the past and whether anything can be done differently next time, or perhaps everyone needs some tips on working together as a team more effectively. By agreeing on this and sticking to it; it will leave no room for anyone to wander off the topic and keep your meeting on track.
When you’re organizing a meeting, you should get everyone together in one place (e.g. a conference call or Skype), so that they can all hear each other and communicate without any technical problems or geographical constraints! If the same things need discussing with several different people, then try and separate them into different meetings so nobody’s time is wasted by repeating what’s already been said.
Make sure that everything can be heard clearly and that there isn’t too much background noise (even if this means sending out an email beforehand asking people not to have their radio on!). Meetings aren’t usually exciting stuff but they should still be fun so try not to take everything too seriously.
Everyone should know what the point of this meeting is and have some idea of what they’re going to discuss beforehand. If this will be the first time that a particular problem has come up, then spend some time thinking about how you’re going to approach it and what action points will be needed.
Meetings can be a nightmare for everyone involved; especially those who feel like their time could be better spent elsewhere. However; if you want to keep hold of your job and build trust then you need to be able to deal with what life throws at you. As long as your meetings are effective and productive then the people who are in charge will continue to call for them instead of finding alternative methods of coping with their workload.