It’s Friday and you’re stuck in a meeting. Meetings are a necessary part of doing business, but anyone who has sat through one can tell you that a lot of time is wasted with unproductive meetings. Here are 5 tips for running the most productive meeting possible so you can leave on time to enjoy your weekend!
1. Pre-Meeting planning
The first question to ask when you are planning a meeting is: is this meeting really necessary? Sometimes an email or call can accomplish the same goal as a meeting would and is much more expeditious. On the other hand, some topics absolutely need to be discussed in person.
The next task is to decide who should attend and why. This step will help streamline the meeting and serve to prevent distractions. Someone in the meeting who does not need to be there may engage in secondary conversations such as speaking to their neighbor or texting. Distractions and side conversation can lead to the meeting taking much longer than necessary.
Once you have decided to have the meeting and who to invite to the meeting, you must make sure to send out the appropriate supporting information that participants will need prior to the meeting. Also make sure that all invitees RSVP to the meeting.
2. Plan the logistics
Although it may not seem important, the time and location of your meeting can have a big impact on the productivity of the meeting. Do not set meetings too early in the morning, immediately after lunch or late in the evening. Pick a location with plenty of room and all of the tools you will need to conduct the meeting. If dealing with electronics, do a test run before the meeting to ensure everything is working properly.
Also remember that some people will come to the meeting unprepared. Always have extra agendas, documents, pens etc.
3. Assign team roles
Assigning roles such as facilitator, note taker and time-keeper will help keep order in the group. The facilitator will be in charge of making sure that everyone has a chance to speak, instead of letting one person dominate the conversation. They will also ensure that everyone stays on topic and will be in charge of reining the team back from tangents. They may also have to intercede if the discussion becomes inappropriate, including making sure that only one person is speaking at a time and that no one is personally attacked for an idea.
The time-keeper will work in tangent with the facilitator, making sure that the facilitator knows when to close certain discussions or when to start wrapping up the meeting.
The note taker will be in charge of taking the notes that will be turned into meeting minutes. The minutes must be sent out after the meeting, to ensure that everyone remembers the key points and decisions derived from the meeting.
Consider assigning one of these tasks to someone who seems to have the shortest attention span or who is often restless in meetings. Often these participants simply need more to do to keep them occupied, and a leadership role is just the ticket.
4. Start on time
The logical reason behind starting on time is that you can finish on time. Other reasons include making sure that the discussions are not rushed, and to avoid the impression that the agenda is not to be taken seriously.
5. Stick to the agenda
Some people may think the agenda is just a formality, but an agenda is the glue that keeps a productive meeting together. The agenda is the guideline to help gauge how much time certain discussions should take and the topics that the participants need to focus on. Sticking to the agenda ensures that tangents are nipped in the bud, transitions between topics are smooth and give the participants a framework to help understand the overall arc of the meeting.
If the participants do not take the agenda seriously, the meeting may be perceived as casual and side conversations or silly discussions may start popping up.
These are just five tips for a good meeting that we at FIRE PR Group have noticed. What are some other tips for holding a productive meeting?