Have you ever experienced sitting in a meeting without accomplishing anything? I’m sure most of you do. Meetings can be tiresome and a waste of time if not done properly. To avoid this kind of meetings, here are some tips that can produce way productive meetings.
Don’t be late
Why agree to a meeting if you can’t be there on time? Remind everyone to come in on-time or beforehand. Don’t wait for latecomers to arrive as that will only reinforce their behaviour and will waste your team’s time.
List down the agenda
Meetings with no clear objectives usually don’t end with anything positive. At the start of the meeting, everyone should know the points to be discussed so everyone is focused and are on the same page. If possible, email or provide a copy of the agenda to the attendees before the meeting. This way everyone already has an idea about what will be discussed and can prepare for it.
For weekly meetings, you can use a template so you can just fill in the blanks and quickly prepare your meeting agenda.
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Keep the group small
Two or three brains are better than one, but a room of ten people isn’t. For more productive meetings, cut down your group to the key people involved. If possible, limit it to five to seven people. The more people there are in a room, the more likely that others will steer the discussion and that others will become spectators. A smaller group can give everyone the time and space to discuss their ideas.
Make sure key people are present
Who attends your meetings make or break the effectiveness of the discussions. If a manager or executive isn’t present to make the decisions, there will be most likely no definite answer that will come out of your meeting. Remember the purpose of the meeting. If it is to brainstorm then make sure key people are involved. If it’s to make decisions then make sure the decision maker is in the room.
Remember to keep track of time
Sometimes, the longer the meeting, the more unproductive it becomes. If no one manages the time, it can be easy for the team to go off-topic or dwell on an idea longer than it should. Keep in mind that during a meeting you can’t do anything else, so your work and other people’s work are put on hold. The time you spend on unproductive meetings could have been spent on more significant tasks. Make sure everyone is focused on the discussion and make every second count.
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Always take notes
This is actually a common thing that most people forget—and you shouldn’t. Taking notes during a meeting reminds you of the important points discussed and allows you to jot down any tasks or questions you might have after the meeting. Even if someone sends the minutes afterwards, it is still best to have your own meeting notes to be sure you have all the information you need. Bring your pen and notebook every time.
The most productive meetings are when everyone contributes a piece of their mind in the discussion. Members may butt heads and contradict each other but this is a good sign that your team is having a meaningful discussion to make a decision. Imagine if only one person talks and everybody else just agrees. You only have one perspective to talk about and you will most likely not arrive at the best possible solution you can do.
To have meaningful discussions, give everyone a chance to say what they think and then come up with a solution and decision together.
Take the meeting outside
Sometimes, you need a breath of fresh air to come up with new ideas. Consider taking your meetings out at lunch, dinner, or even at the park. Business innovator Nilofer Merchant discussed at TED Talks how “walking meetings” kept the ideas flowing and eventually impacted her life and health. Being together in an uninterrupted room is a good way to focus on your discussion, but if you’re meeting to generate ideas, literally, get out of the box.
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