Meetings are necessary to keep teams and projects on track, but no one likes attending them. The fact is, most meetings drag on too long and fail to achieve any sort of goal. They are a drain on time, and most people would rather sit at their desks and get actual work done than sit in a meeting. Since meetings are unavoidable, here are some strategies you can use to make your team meetings more productive.
Determine Whether the Meeting Is Necessary
Meetings should always have a clearly defined purpose. If you cannot articulate the purpose, or if a simple phone call or email will accomplish your goal, you don’t need to have the meeting. A great way to determine if the meeting is necessary is to determine whether the purpose relates to company goals. If not, the meeting isn’t worth it.
Set an Agenda and Communicate Objectives
Have an agenda for every meeting, even if you think the meeting will be short. The more specific the agenda, the better. Clearly lay out exactly what you want to talk about and distribute the agenda ahead of time so people can prepare accordingly. At the start of the meeting, clearly state your desired outcome, so everyone knows the purpose of the meeting and why they were invited.
Start on Time
If you call a meeting for 10:00, it should start at 10:00, not 10:05. If someone is late, it is up to them to catch up. Do not apologize or backtrack and summarize what they have missed. If someone does ask to be brought up to speed, tell them you’ll update them once the meeting is over. It won’t take long for your team to understand they can’t afford to be late for meetings.
Stick to the Agenda
Set time limits for each topic on the agenda and stick with them. If necessary, set an actual timer or have someone be the timekeeper so you know when it’s time to move on. If something comes up that is not on the agenda, table it for discussion at another time.
Summarize, Assign, Adjourn
At the close of the meeting, summarize the action items discussed, go over who is responsible for each item and in what timeframe, ask for any last minute questions that directly pertain to those items and then adjourn.
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