Meetings consume lot’s of time. It’s where business is done. Or rather, where business should be done.
Yet, we all experience bad meetings. But it need not be this way.
Here are five top tips to screw up a team meeting … and ways to to turn a bad meeting to good.
1. So You Need a Meeting?
The best way to screw up a meeting and waste plenty of time is to gather people together for no apparent reason.
Sounds familiar? Do you get invited to rolling meetings and weekly catch-up sessions? Or, meetings with no agenda?
My advice … don’t go.
Better still, ask the organiser to explain the purpose of the meeting. Make sure the meeting is necessary before attending. You may find it’s easier to accomplish the goal with a conversation or using email or collaboration tools.
So, make sure you don’t screw up meetings … set the example. The effective meeting organiser is clear about the objective, always states the purpose of the meeting in the invite and again at the start of the meeting.
2. Stick to the Agenda
Another great way to screw up a meeting is to take it off-piste. Create unnecessary side conversations and spend time telling everyone how great your latest project is doing.
Once again, become a beacon of good practice and help the meeting organiser to keep the discussion centred and avoid those unnecessary side conversations.
So, make efforts to make sure the meeting is effective and provides the best opportunity to do business.
And, of course, always have a freshly prepared agenda that makes it clear to everyone why they are meeting. Is it to solve a problem? To seek a decision? Or, to proceed to the next stage of a project?
3. Loose the Passengers
Okay, this is a favourite.
Pull lots of people away from their busy schedule to find that the key decision maker isn’t there. That really screws up a meeting!
When a meeting is needed to accomplish your goal, check availability with those participants who must attend for the meeting to succeed. And, if they’re unavailable, postpone the meeting rather than holding a meeting without critical people attending.
And, if a delegate attends in their place, make sure they come with the authority to make decisions.
Otherwise, postpone and reschedule the meeting.
Effective meetings always involve the right people.
4. Save a Minute or Two
This one is priceless … and I’m sure you’ve witnessed it many times. You go to a meeting and no one can quite remember what was agreed at the last meeting. Before you know it, you spend most of the meeting going over the same ground as last time.
This has to be one of the best ways to screw up a meeting. It guarantees time wasting, every time!
Of course, it’s rather easy to overcome this problem.
Simply agree and record actions and decisions as you go.
You don’t need to go into chapter and verse. A simple and concise record is all that is needed for an effective meeting.
Just make sure it includes the who?, what?, why?, when? and how much?
5. Give Yourself a Break
Another regular trick for screwing up a meeting is to start late.
I’m sure you’re familiar with this. Key people are so busy attending other meetings that they struggle to get from one meeting to another.
Scheduling back-to-back meetings is a great way to frustrate people.
Sooner or later they are exhausted or overwhelmed. Running from meeting to meeting, makes them late for appointments and deprives them of the opportunity to keep on top of their work and unanswered emails.
What can you do?
Quite simply, insist on finishing 5 or 10 minutes early for every meeting. If you’ve followed so far, you’ll realise that what would be done in 60 minutes can easily be done in 50 with a little focus and discipline.
So, resist the temptation to set meetings to start and finish using the default in your calendar and send meeting requests that end 5 minutes early every half-hour, and 10 minutes before the hour.
This will help you, and everyone else, to get things done more effectively.
Remember, the purpose of a meeting is to get business done. So, next time you need to gather people together, make sure you follow these tips for effective meetings. That is, unless you’re intent on screwing things up.
What’s your best meeting gripe?
How do you make sure meetings are efficient and effective?
Creative Commons image courtesy Tony B.