Meetings are generally considered to be one of the worst parts of most people’s jobs, but have you ever asked yourself why? Even leaders tend to dread meetings, because this negative energy surrounding the word spreads like wildfire. But, there’s no good reason we should all hate meetings so much. In reality, meetings can be productive and useful. It’s all a matter of how you run them.
In today’s business environment, a traditional meeting that lasts for hours and bores everyone in the room is hardly an effective use of time. Time is one of your most valuable assets as an organization, and you’re going to need to use it more efficiently to accomplish real goals. Let’s talk about how you can do a better job at running your regular business meetings.
The Importance of Timeliness
Seeing as time is such an important asset, it’s vital that you use as little of it as possible. Studies done on your working memory capacity have shown that not everyone is able to pay attention equally. Some people have more control over their level of concentration and focus, while others are unable to focus as long in tasks that are uninteresting or unengaging.
This is why time is such a huge factor in the most successful meetings. Most adults are able to hold their attention span for up to 20 minutes, even if the topic they are paying attention to doesn’t interest them very much. If you hold a meeting that’s any longer than this, it will not be very successful. It is far better to have a short, productive meeting than a long, drawn-out and unproductive meeting.
Some occasions call for longer meetings and cannot be shortened. If this is the case, then you need to use your time more wisely. Inform people ahead of time how long the meeting will be, what the agenda is, and how they are expected to contribute. That way people will be more prepared and can be more engaged in the meeting itself, helping them to hold their attention spans for longer.
Record Your Progress
Keeping minutes in a meeting will make it so that anything you talked about won’t be lost or forgotten by the next time you get together. What’s the point of holding a weekly meeting if you end up talking about the same topics each time? Keeping minutes and logging what happened in a meeting will help you save time and make your meeting much more efficient for everyone.
Send out a copy of the minutes after the meeting is complete, so that anything important that was discussed will be remembered by all the attendees, and will be known by those who missed the meeting.
If you’re doing a 10-minute status report on a daily or weekly basis, you can get away with just talking by yourself the whole time. However, if you want to make a meeting that will be longer than 10-20 minutes, you’ll want other people to be engaged and participating. You can either assign people tasks ahead of time to do at the meeting, or you can stimulate discussion and carry on during the meeting.
Although participation from others is important, you shouldn’t let someone else hijack your meeting. Remember to keep to the agenda and don’t waste people’s time. If someone is talking too much, isn’t making sense, or is just spending a long time getting to the point, you can take back the reins and stir the meeting back on course. It may be a good idea to talk to that employee afterwards and explain why you had to cut them off, to avoid hard feelings and help them to improve for the next meeting.
Be Purposeful and Direct
The last point is arguably the most important: don’t host unnecessary meetings. Before you call for a meeting, ask yourself if the information can be effectively communicated some other way. If it’s a simple status report or a general informative meeting, can you send out the information to people outside of a meeting?
If you decide that a meeting is necessary, you then have to think about who actually needs to be present for it to take place. Some meetings won’t require the entire team to be there, and you would be wasting time by requiring attendance from everyone. It’s better to selectively invite employees to meetings than to call everyone and have some employees waste time on something that will not involve them or affect them directly.
Meetings should be full of purpose and should be clearly directed. If you don’t have a good reason for why a meeting needs to happen, then maybe you don’t need to have a meeting at all!
Team meetings no longer have to be something to dread and drag your feet about. If you run meetings the right way, your team may not applaud you, but they will become more productive and will use their time for more valuable activities.