How to Hold Effective, Valuable, and Productive Meetings
Almost every modern worker hates meetings.
The reason for that is simple: Too many meetings are boring, unproductive, and a waste of time. They pull people away from their work and make it difficult to complete tasks on time.
Yet, meetings exist for a reason. They’re supposed to solve problems and provide value. Meetings can be useful, if you approach them correctly.
So, before your next meeting, learn how to ensure that the next company meeting isn’t just another time-suck.
1. Have an agenda – and stick to it!
Too many meetings go off the rails because there’s no plan or agenda.
To avoid this problem, organizers need to plan ahead and put together a comprehensive agenda. Stick to topics on the agenda first. If there’s time left over at the end, discuss those things after the main points have been covered.
Be sure to share the agenda with all participants ahead of time. That way, they can come prepared to answer questions or add to the discussion.
2. Limit the number of attendees
While many people may feel that they have to invite everyone to meetings, don’t! Larger meetings tend to be more ineffective, so keep this in mind when deciding who needs to attend a meeting.
According to the “Rule of 7”, “Research shows that for every person over seven attendees in a meeting, decision quality goes down by 10%. So, whenever you will be making collaborative decisions during a meeting, keep the group to seven people or fewer.”
3. Aim for 30-minute meetings
People are busy. They don’t have time for 60 to 90 minute meetings. Plus, most people start zoning out after 45 minutes or so.
Meetings can be kept to 20 to 30 minutes, which is usually enough time to discuss any major topics. If the meeting is starting to run long, end it. Add another 30 minute meeting about the subjects not covered.
4. Track what was accomplished in the meeting
Write down every important decision that was made in the meeting. While some meetings (i.e. brainstorming sessions or reviewing quarterly reports) may not result in major decisions, those should be few and far between.
Here’s a good rule to follow: If a meeting doesn’t result in action items, it probably didn’t need to happen.
5. Choose an organized person to run the meeting
It’s common for a director or VP to run meetings. But oftentimes, these aren’t the right people. They can be disorganized or long-winded, because their strengths lie in strategy and big-picture thinking.
Executive assistants make excellent meeting organizers and timers: They are good at ending conversation on one topic and ushering in the next. If you don’t already have an executive assistant, a virtual assistant is a great alternative.
6. Don’t have meetings just for the sake of having meetings
It’s tempting to have meetings about every little thing.
It’s helpful to remember that meetings are a great way to get input from a larger group and brainstorm new ideas. Instead of scheduling a meeting, take a moment to think about whether something is better handled via email or another channel.
Meetings can be extremely effective tools if used correctly. The number one rule is don’t waste employees’ or colleagues’ time. People need time to work, and meetings too often keep them away from doing just that.