Meetings – the necessary evil. Some are productive, some feel like torture and, if you’re lucky, some will involve alcohol (at least at BBR). Meetings can be an effective vehicle for sharing information and ideas but when executed poorly, can become a real pain when executed poorly. According to the National Statistics Council, 37 percent of employee time is spent in meetings. Spend your time wisely by using these five steps to find your meeting mojo — and your clients and employees will thank you tremendously.
1. Determine If It’s Necessary
What’s the Number 2 reported time suck in the workplace only after Facebook*? Unnecessary meetings. And it’s probably a top complaint found on any employee survey. When feeling the need to rally the troops, first think through if you can accomplish your goal with an email, a phone call, carrier pigeon or simply walking across the hall and asking a quick question. Ok, forget the pigeon, but you get the idea. Still need to meet? Great – move on to #2.
This is one of my biggest pet peeves – unprepared meeting facilitators (or attendees). As the facilitator, you should determine up front what your objectives are for the meeting, determine the right people for the meeting, prepare an agenda or some semblance of a plan on how it will go down and have everything you need ready to go when attendees walk in. If this is a collaborative meeting where participants are expected to come armed and ready, be sure to send any necessary information ahead of time so they can be prepared as well. Need help thinking through the prep? Download this PDF. It serves as a meeting note-taking document as well.
3. Be Punctual
Ok, this is probably the one I struggle with the most! It’s important to start and stop the meeting on time. Because chances are, half of your team is probably going to another meeting and no one wants their schedule to back up more than a dancer in a Juvenile music video. To help with ensuring your team shows up on time, consider scheduling the meeting at an “off-beat” time like 10:02 am or 2:37 pm. And at that time, start the meeting regardless of who shows up – people will get the point. For ending on time, consider a standing-only meeting. For shorter check-ins and “huddles,” do like the Ritz Carlton staff and stand while you meet – it encourages more action in a quicker time period.
4. Stick to the Agenda
Use your agenda or objectives to guide the conversation and keep things on track. Unrelated great ideas or side-trail issues can come up, which is OK, but capture it in the “parking lot” for a later discussion and get the group re-focused on the agenda topics at hand.
5. Follow-through on Next Steps
If a meeting happens and no one takes action, did the meeting even happen at all? Be sure key decisions and next steps are captured in the meeting. Use the end of the meeting to do a quick recap and ensure everyone understands his/her individual assignments and when they are due. Or their C.A.N.S. – Clear Actionable Next Steps.
Whether drinking or not, meetings can be productive and (gasp!) maybe even enjoyable! All you ever needed was a little meeting mojo.
*BBR does not condone the idea that Facebook is a time suck. Facebook can be a very powerful marketing and networking tool. However, if you are spending more than 8 hours on social media each day, we’re sure there’s a hotline for that.
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