Many people dread meetings. Not only can they be boring, but they can also slow down productivity and make it harder for a business to achieve its goals. If you worry about unproductive meetings at your business, here are tips on how to improve them.
Start with an objective
Why do you need a meeting? Is it to create new ideas, find new information, or make decisions on important matters? Perhaps it's a mixture of the three. Unless you are certain about the goal of your meeting, you'll have a hard time getting there. A concrete agenda is critical to ensuring a meeting doesn't drift.
Take the meeting outside
Off-site meetings are a great way to beat a lack of energy. Taking a restaurant or park meeting doesn't necessarily mean you need to turn it into a social gathering. Instead, a change of scenery simply energizes the mind and brings new ideas.
Go in prepared
Preparation is critical to the success of a meeting. Every participant should get a copy of the agenda. It should come with a list of all the topics to go over at the meeting, a description of the objectives, the names of the people who will attend, and background information on the topics to be covered. An agenda such as this is likely to help participants come in fully prepared.
Aim for small meetings
Large meetings may look impressive, but they achieve less. The smaller your meetings, the more productive they are likely to be. Meetings are supposed to be about making decisions, not simply sharing information. It could keep the meeting well-focused if you could let most of the people on your list of attendees simply learn about what happened over email.
Have a stand-up meeting
Stand-up meetings are a trend today. The idea is, participants standing up are likely to be more engaged and collaborative. Standup meetings also move along faster, making them efficient. Some studies indicate that standup meetings take a third less time to arrive at decisions than seated meetings.
Keep everything in focus
Meetings often drag along because some participants begin to tell stories, or they rehash topics. There should be a couple of people assigned to raise a flag when these problems occur. Many companies have meeting rules about rehashing and storytelling. It's a good idea to consider adopting such rules.
According to some studies, multitasking in everyday life costs the global economy hundreds of billions of dollars in lost productivity. A study by Harvard Business Review has found that multitasking leads to a forty percent drop in productivity and a loss of ten points off the IQ for those who do it. It's essential to make sure multitasking doesn't ruin your meetings.
Make sure no one uses their phone or computer unless these tools are necessary for the meeting, assign different people to take minutes, and take notes. Assign other meeting responsibilities to different people, and make sure everyone who speaks keeps to a timed agenda so that no one is bored.
Finally, it's important to keep meetings short. The longer meetings run, the less the sense of urgency to accomplish something. For the most productivity, make sure that meetings are kept under thirty minutes.
Meetings may be wonderful tools, but it's important to know how to use them. Used carelessly, they can turn into a time sink. When used with care, however, they become productive and a source of valuable ideas.
Written by: Arthur G. Young