According to Brainy Quote (n.d.) Thomas Sowell once said “People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything” (para.1). Meetings are work and should be viewed as a time to move discussions into decisions. “More than 33 percent of time spent in meetings is unproductive, costing business an estimated $37 billion USD a year” (Bucpunar, 2008, slide 2). Here are a few steps to keep in mind to make meetings beneficial for each participating member and profitable for the organization.
Getting the Most out of Meetings before the Meeting Begins
Preparation is the foundation of all good meetings. The presenter must know what they want to accomplish, the goal(s). The agenda must reflect the goal(s) of the meeting in order for the meeting to be profitable for all involved. Once this is completed, it is easy to develop an agenda for your meeting. According to Smart meetings (2015), “An agenda prevents the meeting from being hijacked by some random topic…” (para. 5). The meeting must be laser focus on the goals. Next to each line item, place an amount of time that is allotted to spend time on that line item as well as the person in charge of presenting that line item. Also include an extra space under each line item for participates to write their own notes.
A one page summary of the meeting should also be completed. Think of it as the conclusion part of the meeting. This helps makes sure the presenter is on target with the agenda as well as help the participants in the meeting feel they have also accomplished a lot in the meetings.
Getting the Most out of the Meetings during the Meeting
Sometimes starting a meeting on time may not fit the cultural norm, especially if those meetings are held in Asian countries. No matter how strong the temptation is to fit into the cultural norm, the presenter must realize that starting the meeting on time sets a good tone for the rest of the meeting. According to Smart meetings (2015), “If you scheduled the meeting for 10 a.m., start at 10 a.m. This shows respect for people’s times…” (para. 9). Respecting other people’s time means they will respect your time as the presenter.7
Staying on topic should not have to be stated but we see this often that discussions are not taken offline when they should. The presenter must also have the sense to politely bring the discussion back to the task at hand.
Getting people engaged in the meeting is crucial to staying on target. Build in questions throughout the meeting that fit the topic. Questions that should be asked throughout the meeting is how will this work in a real business life scenario and is this going to make our organizational better and if so how? Encourage participation with all participates in the meeting. Sometimes the quietest member has a profound statement relating to the topic.
When finishing that line item, make sure there is a timeline of completion and who is in charge. This allows for accountability as well as making sure that job is completed.
Technology is awesome when used in a productive and meaningful matter. Thus, I would recommend banning any form of electronic communication device in the meeting. This may sound drastic but we humans did live without mobile phones and other communication devices when we were in meetings not to longer in the recent past. Hartman (2014), “The reality is that if people are allowed to bring iPads or BlackBerries into the room, they won’t be focusing on the meeting or contributing to it” (para. 9). One of the goals of meetings is to make sure all are participating therefore making the meeting profitable for every member. The less distraction the more everyone will participate.
Getting the Most out of Meetings Right after the Meeting. Most, including myself, have thought that once the meeting was adjourned that was the end of the meeting. However, I was wrong in thinking that way. There may be loose ends to handle after meetings. This time can be used to make the meeting even more profitable, even after most of the participants have left.
The person leading the meeting should stay a little after the meeting. Popovich (n.d.), “…Chances are some topics may need to be further explained or someone will not fully understand the presentation.” Not all topics can be packaged perfectly in the meeting. The time after the meeting can help defray wasted time in future meetings or sub meetings by going over concerns of those who need extra time to go over certain line items. This also is an opportunity when during the meeting you can mention “we can talk about this offline right after the meeting with me” and thus gives time for someone to not waist valuable meeting time.
Prior to the meeting, you have spent valuable time in preparing for the meeting. To get the best out of these meetings it is important to spend a little more time after the meeting for follow up. Hartman (2014), “it’s quite common for people to come away from the same meeting with very different interpretations of what went on” (para. 10). Sending a memo that highlights key points as well as who is responsible for certain task provides unity. This memo will also be a great starting point for the next meeting where you can reference parts of it to the meeting participants.
Are there a few other areas that make meetings run smoothly that I missed? Yes, for sure there are. But these are the ones I have used and have worked well for me so far. The goal of meetings is not to get bogged down in “dos and don’ts” but to have a few parameters to make each meeting the best meeting possible.
Lastly, make sure these meetings are not boring. Meetings are not funerals. They are not sad events. Meetings are a great place to get work done in a professional and timely manner.
With that, let’s go to our next meeting!
Brainy Quote. (n.d.). Meetings quotes. Retrieved from https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/meetings.html
Bucpunar. (2008). Meeting Management [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/bucpunar/meeting-management?qid=e8a0d4dc-c714-4b1a-adf3-ff0643053e07&v=&b=&from_search=1
Hartman, N. (2014). Seven steps to running the most effective meeting possible. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2014/02/05/seven-steps-to-running-the-most-effective-meeting-possible/#61c42d9d7a61
Popovich, S. (n.d.). 10 tips on getting the most out of business meetings. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/237690
Smart meetings. (2015). 5 strategies to get the most out of meetings. Retrieved from https://www.smartmeetings.com/tips-tools/80996/5-strategies-to-get-the-most-out-of-meetings