Do you dread attending the weekly staff meeting? Do you ever find yourself sitting there, twirling your pen, and resisting the temptation to peek at your Smartphone, wondering why on earth you are there when you have so many other things to do? Or worse, are you at the head of the table leading the meeting as you observe other’s disinterest? You are not alone. Poorly managed meetings are a productivity killer and they certainly don’t help employee morale. Say goodbye to those boring meetings and learn how to conduct effective meetings that leave employees engaged and motivated.
7 Tips For Effective Meetings
Establish the Meeting’s Objective
Before sending out a meeting alert and putting it on your calendar, ask yourself why you want to hold a meeting and determine the objective. Is it a meeting to bring employees up to speed on a change in management? Are you making a decision regarding a project? Is it a brainstorming session for a new business strategy? Be certain that gathering employees in a room for face-to-face discussion and interaction is necessary for your objective; if the purpose of the meeting is a status update, perhaps sending out a group email is a better use of everyone’s time.
Communicate the Purpose of the Meeting
When inviting others to your meeting, be clear about the purpose of the meeting. This will not only keep you focused but will enable employees to attend the meeting prepared either with documents or with thoughts on the matter at hand. Communication is essential for an effective meeting.
Be Selective about Attendees
No one appreciates attending a meeting that has no connection to them or their work. Determine who really needs to be there and why. Whose input do you need? Which colleagues must participate and will likely have questions on the matter? If someone is on your list that simply needs to be informed of what was discussed, then do them a favor and take them off the list. They can be easily updated with a follow-up email. Time is valuable and no employer wants to negatively impact productivity by having employees sit in on meetings that are unnecessary.
You Must Create a Meeting Agenda
Holding a meeting without a set meeting agenda is akin to climbing into a sailboat and hoping the wind takes you where you want to go. You will – quite literally – be lost at sea. Your meeting agenda will guide you to your final destination. Include topics to be discussed and who will be addressing each item if others are taking part. Email the agenda to attendees ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect and comes prepared.
Stick to Your Plan
Even the best-planned meeting will go awry if the discussion gets derailed and goes off on tangential topics. This is why most meetings fail to achieve their objective – they do not stay on track. At the outset of your meeting, establish ground rules and a specified time allotment for each item on your agenda as well as the overall meeting. For example, “Thank you for coming today. Everyone’s time is valuable and it is my goal to keep this meeting to less than an hour. Let’s stick to the items at hand and reserve discussion on other subjects for a later time.” Rein in anyone who is monopolizing the discussion or introducing topics, not on the agenda.
Keep Them Engaged
Visual aids go a long way in keeping everyone focused on the meeting and not on their phones or the clock. Post the agenda on a Smart Board in the front of the room. Project visuals onto a large screen using a computer; anything to keep their eyes up front.
Summarize the Meeting
Ever leave a meeting and have a totally different takeaway than your colleague? Make sure this doesn’t happen with your meeting by emailing a follow up within 24 hours. Include a summary, highlight key topics addressed, tasks assigned and indicate deadlines. Sending this out in a timely fashion will ensure that attendees don’t head in the wrong direction.