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How to Reduce the Yawns: Tips for Effective Meetings

It’s safe to say that the majority of the working population dreads meetings. In fact, most people hate them.
Think about it, how many times in your career have you attended a meeting and once it was finished wondered if anything got accomplished? For that reason, meetings are often considered a waste a time.
Still, the corporate environment requires meetings as part of the job. The reason why meetings are so popular in the business climate is because they are designed as a business tool for exchanging information, reviewing progress, and solving any problems that have transpired.
And as the manager, you are responsible for setting the tone for meetings. So if your meetings are unproductive, well, the blame rests on your shoulders.
There are seemingly endless reasons why meetings get out of a control. Sometimes meetings have no clear purpose, attendees tend to ramble, or there is no determined ending time.
Salescrunch.com has a great infographic titled, “Don’t Suck at Meetings”. One of the key takeaways of the infographic is that in order to keep people’s attention, you need to have shorter meetings. After the 30-minute mark, people’s participation begins to drops off. The site claims 15 minutes meetings are 50% more successful than meetings over 45 minutes.
Besides keeping meetings from going to overtime, here are some other ways you can facilitate meetings that are meaningful and effective to both you and your team.
Write out an agenda. Prior to the meeting, make sure you compose an agenda and write out the objective of the meeting and what will be discussed.  Be sure to plan out your communications and write down the points you want to make. Sequence the points, placing your main points first, followed by the supporting reasons. Do not bury your main points in the middle of a paragraph.
Not a speech, but a group discussion.  While you do have points to make, don’t view meetings as your time to give a big speech. In staff meetings, ask the group for their ideas instead of just presenting a briefing. Allow these meetings to be team-building sessions, with open brainstorming and problem solving.
For example, invite ideas by asking: “What do you think about…?” or “What ideas do you have about …?” Allow silence after you ask a question. Don’t answer the question yourself. Solicit responses from people who seem reluctant to participate. Use your group’s ideas whenever possible.
Establish a focal point. Focus attention on the areas where you’ll get the most leverage. Too many changes may make the work environment unstable, and people may find it difficult to focus because they’re trying to do too many new things. Set up specific dates to review progress. Establish specific goals for each assignment and measure progress against these goals as the project unfolds.
Change of scenery. Meetings don’t have to be conducted at the office. Schedule a casual lunch with your group. Introduce a topic for discussion, then step back and allow your group members to discuss it.
Meetings might always be considered a necessary evil, but with a little planning and time management on your part, meetings could be viewed as more necessary than evil.
Tell us, what are some of the ways you conduct effective meetings?

 

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1 Comment

  • Ron says:

    Jeremy,
    Great tips! I’ve run a workshop on meetings for the past two decades. And you are dead-on with sending an agenda and an objective. in years of observation and od work have seen some pretty “lame” agendas…much less good meeting facilitators.

    Two things stand out:
    1) Meeting leaders need to have a backbone…many folks try to be “too nice” and not keep the meeting on track. Meeting leaders need to provide structure and rigor. Structure drives behavior. No structure? Don’t count on your objectives being hit.

    2) What I find also helps is listing the “expected outcomes” if you have multiple agenda items. Without expected outcomes, meetings tend to strrrrrrrrrrrrrrretch out.

    I’ve seen 60 minute meetings complete in thirty if the above two points are met.