9 Tips for Shorter, More Effective Meetings

February 9, 2014 by  

Here is a way to avoid those unfocused meetings that negatively influence your team’s productivity.
Too many business meetings are poorly run. People drone on and on, there seems to be no point to the gathering, and little is accomplished, so attendees are frustrated and feel like their time has been wasted.

Wouldn’t it be nice to walk out of a meeting feeling like great results were achieved!

Here is a simple set of rules to keep your meetings brief, effective, and to the point.
1. All meetings must have a concrete, measurable goal.
The main reason to have a meeting is to discuss an issue, come to a decision about next steps and develop an action plan with a time line. If you can’t clearly define why you’re calling the meeting, don’t call it!
2. All meetings must have a focused agenda.
The agenda should consist of the topic, other related issues and possibly a few questions that move from the general to the specific.
3. Meetings should be no longer than two hours.
This is about as long as most people can focus. If you want to accomplish a specific endeavour, keep the meeting moving, keep the attendees focused and do not allow deviations from the agenda.
4. Agenda & pertinent materials should be available before the meeting.
When attendees have the agenda and the necessary data ahead of time they can prepare questions, bring information, etc. to the meeting…in other words they can be prepared to get down to the business at hand.
5. Latecomers will not be briefed on what’s been said.
If the chair starts meetings on time, the attendees will understand that they need to be there when scheduled. If someone key to the discussion cannot be on time, perhaps the meeting time ought to be altered.
6. There will be no smartphones/tablets/laptops in use during the meeting.
This rule provides a HUGE incentive to EVERYONE to wrap up the meeting quickly. Need to take notes? Provide a hard copy agenda with space for notes.  Besides, honestly, the use of these devices during a meeting is just rude!
7. There will be only short presentations.
If the purpose of the meeting is to discuss information that is in a presentation, that presentation (with notes) should be distributed and read beforehand.  A short recap can be delivered to emphasize the key points: give the presenter a template for this two minute report.
8. Committee activities can be offered in short report form.
In a world of shared documents and “review mode” there’s no reason people should be listening to all the committee deliberations.  Any documents that need to be created should be done ahead by the committee and distributed….saves a lot of time.
9. Meeting results will be documented and minutes distributed.
The reason here is to document the proceedings, create action plans and determine concrete, measurable goals.
If you are frustrated by unproductive, long, unfocussed meetings, try to implement these rules…. you will be surprised at how much real work can get done.

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