Does it seem like your meetings go on and on without accomplishing anything? You’re not alone. The good news is that you can always change that. Check out these techniques for having more meaningful meetings.
Have a Clearly Defined Goal
When you go into a meeting with the intent of “talking about your project,” it’s no wonder that you’re not getting anything done. That’s because your team doesn’t really know what they’re supposed to accomplish in the meeting. Instead, have a clear goal in mind before the meeting begins, and don’t leave it until the last minute.
For example, “By the end of this meeting, we will clearly define each person’s responsibilities on this project and have deadlines in place for when each part of the project is due.” Statements like this keep everything focused and lead you on the right path for coming away accomplished.
Be sure that you’re not going into meetings with so many objectives that you can’t stay focused and can’t complete them all.
Create and Distribute an Agenda Ahead of Time
One thing that can kill your meeting’s productivity is that everyone may have a different idea of what you’re supposed to be talking about and at what time. This makes it tough to stay focused on each task. To make meetings matter and keep everyone on the same path, create an agenda ahead of time, and then distribute it to your team members at least a day in advance. This way people are prepared for what’s going to happen in the meeting and can organize their own materials based on the topic at hand.
When you can, consider creating a PowerPoint presentation that goes in hand with the agenda as a way to guide the conversation in the right direction. Your iPhone or other smartphone can be a valuable tool to guide the meeting, such as by allowing you to distribute meeting notes and presentation slides to your team.
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Hold Latecomers Accountable
One thing that can really kill your meetings is having people arrive late. Give them perhaps a two-minute window, and then shut the doors. Latecomers will only distract the meeting, not to mention that their absence is a setback of its own. Shut them out once and you can expect people to arrive on time next time.
Assign a Facilitator
One thing that can really help keep your meetings on track is by assigning a facilitator. If you’re the one managing meetings, then the facilitator can be you. The facilitator is in charge of taking an objective approach to the meeting and ensuring that everyone is staying on task. For example, if someone is getting off subject and trying to move the conversation toward an issue not on the agenda, the facilitator will steer the conversation back toward the proper topic.
Prepare a Notetaker
Assign someone to take notes at the meeting, and be sure he or she is prepared for what to do. Ask the preparer to take notes on key points made in the meeting and on action items that occurred during the meeting. Then be sure that the preparer writes a report and distributes it to team members. This gives people a chance to look at what was discussed and consider what points were forgotten. It also keeps them moving forward.
End Your Meetings Right
Your meetings shouldn’t end because your time is up. They should end when you’ve accomplished the goals set out for you at the beginning. If you don’t think you’ll have enough time, then perhaps you’ll have to narrow your goals or revise your agenda. It might also work to gather information beforehand, such as each team members’ position on a topic or any data points or research that will help you accomplish your goal.
If you’re not pleased with how your meetings are running, chances are none of your team members are happy, either. To make your meetings more meaningful, consider asking your employees for suggestions. What techniques do they think would make the team more successful at achieving their goals? You’ll likely come away with a lot of insight. You can gather feedback by distributing surveys or by adding this issue to the agenda.
How will you make your meetings more meaningful?
Image: Daniel Foster / Filterbrew ( )
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