Our time is a valuable commodity, and it should not be wasted in frivolous meetings. Countless hours are consumed by business professionals attending meetings that produce no valuable results; frustration is often a byproduct of such wasteful meetings.
As a leader, you can communicate to your staff that you value their time by planning and administering well-organized meetings. Follow these seven steps to create a more productive meeting.
Define the purpose
Holding a meeting without a well-defined purpose is like navigating a boat without a rudder. It can float any way and the likelihood of your reaching your established ending point is doubtful. Leaders who are hosting a meeting should take time to delineate why the meeting needs to occur, and what the outcome should be. With a clear purpose that all attendees understand, the focus can more easily be maintained.
No one likes to have their time wasted. If the meeting’s outcome can be achieved through a more efficient way, such as through using a project management system or communicating through email, it may be more sensible to “meet” in a different format.
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Identify who should attend
Once you clarify the need for holding a meeting, identify who should attend. Be specific in delineating the specific role you expect each participant to play. Think about the contributions you hope they will be able to share. When you invite the participants, indicate what their expected role will be and the specific amount of time the meeting will take. In this manner, participants can set aside the appropriate amount of time in their day.
Set an agenda
After you’ve reviewed the desired outcome of your meeting from the key participants, then setting an agenda is the next step. The agenda should include the statement of purpose, a list of those attending, topics to address, and the time allotted for the meeting.
Be focused with the topics you list. You want the participants to offer meaningful insights that result in applicable solutions. In other words, you want participants to leave the meeting with new perspectives they can apply as a result of the meeting.
Allow preparation time
Be aware that some of your participants may be introverted thinkers and need time to process their opinions before the meeting. Otherwise, your meeting will be monopolized by the extroverted thinkers in the room. Also, you may want to give assignments before the meeting so that participants arrive prepared and ready to roll up their sleeves to get things accomplished.
Make meeting preparations
Another way to communicate that you value participants’ time is by preparing the room with necessary presentation equipment, refreshments, and handouts. The meeting should begin at the allotted time, without having to spend time getting things ready as people are arriving. You may go so far as thinking of technical glitches that might occur and have backup plans ready.
Set a time limit
A well-run and productive meeting starts on time and ends on time. In addition, you should allow time for debate. Also, don’t over schedule your agenda so that people feel rushed in expressing their opinions. Most importantly, to end the meeting at the allotted time you had indicated in your agenda, be ready to end debate and reschedule for another meeting time.
Clarify the next steps moving forward
To maintain momentum after the meeting has ended, clarify what the next steps will be addressing the discussion topics. Send written minutes from the meeting in a timely fashion, indicating assignments given to participants; describe outcomes from the meeting and how they will be used. Since meetings often monitor how a group is handling a project, there are usually more steps to complete.