Meetings are one of those things which are completely unavoidable if you work with a team, and which often seem to go on and on, without reaching the conclusion you need. However, when done properly, meetings can be streamlined, effective, efficient, and can leave your staff feeling positive, energised and ready to get back to work and make a difference. Here are some top tips from leading business gurus regarding how to make meetings work for you, and how to avoid your staff members eyeing the clock, switching off half way through, and wishing they were somewhere else!
Plan everything in advance
It’s never a bad idea to set an agenda, and a meeting which has no plan is never going to get anywhere worth going. Without setting out exactly what will be covered in the meeting, a few different things will happen. Firstly, you’ll skirt around the issues you want to cover. Secondly, you’ll end up focusing on far too many different things. Thirdly, and most annoyingly, you’ll waste time on small talk and elevator chat – and nobody really wants that when they’re at work. Plan out a couple of key things which need talking about, let your team members know the itinerary of the meeting, and jump straight in at the deep end. Trust us: everyone will thank you for it!
It’s easy to get a bit overenthusiastic when you’re inviting people to meetings, and almost every meeting has at least a couple of people who really don’t need to be there (and who could be far more useful elsewhere in the office). Having too many people in a meeting not only wastes the time and productivity of those who could be working at their desks, it also decreases the effectiveness of the meeting – not everyone might get a chance to speak up, and you could be inviting input from people whose input you really don’t need. Be strict and exclusive with your invitations, and see your productivity rise dramatically.
Think outside the box
If you always have your meetings in the same place, it might be time for a change of scenery. Lots of top companies are now encouraging their team leaders and managers to take their meetings outside in the fresh air – it encourages open-mindedness and brainstorming – and ‘standing up’ meetings are becoming more popular too, as sitting down can make people switch off a bit. Go for a coffee with your team, take a walk in the park, discuss your plans in a more dynamic way and you may find you receive far more constructive input.
Go off grid
We all love technology, and no business on earth has not benefited from the arrival of email and the endless possibilities than come with smartphones and wifi. However, it goes without saying that phones, tablets and laptops should be switched off when the meeting starts. If you’re holding a meeting and you stop to take a call, you’re just wasting people’s time and appearing rude, too – simply by pressing that ‘off’ button, you can focus your attention so much more effectively.
Take notes and follow up
Even the best meetings can end up with no tangible results if you don’t make extensive notes throughout, and bear in mind all that was covered. It’s all about keeping that ball rolling – if the meeting revealed that something needs to be investigated and looked into, simply by making a note of that will allow you to take the appropriate action quickly and effectively. This will raise staff morale, and keep everybody productive and happy. Invite your staff members to send you their thoughts after the meeting, too – sometimes the best ideas come to us after we’ve left the meeting room, and we have missed our chance to speak up!