- If you lead meetings at work, it’s important to ensure they’re concise and make the most of everyone’s time.
- Provide an agenda, clarify action items to stay on track, and recap what needs to get done.
- Check in with your coworkers to ask which meetings they think are the most valuable and productive.
If you are like most business owners, you start the day by reviewing your calendar and seeing how many meetings you have for the day. Often, there are quite a few each day, many of which are marked as urgent. This can be a total productivity killer – not to mention a mood killer as well.
In fact, meetings are one of the first things I go over when I start working with a new business coaching client because it takes up such a huge portion of their day. When I find a client who is struggling with the constant barrage of meetings and interruptions, we go through a series of questions about the meetings that they hold. Questions like:
- How many meetings do you have on an average day?
- Do you have to be present for all of them, or are any of them able to be passed off to one of your team members?
- Do all of the meetings you currently lead or participate in add real value?
- Or have they just become a dull routine?
- Which ones really add the most value?
- Which meetings could be canceled, or made less frequent, or shorter?
- Which meetings need to be added or extended?
1. Always plan your meetings in advance
If you don’t have an agenda, don’t hold the meeting. The chances of you going off the rails and wasting time on things that don’t create value are very high. Instead, postpone the meeting until you can dedicate a bit of time beforehand to lay out the agenda.
2. Start strong
Start on time and start strong. Jump right into your agenda, and get to the point. Everyone’s time is valuable and if you spend five or ten minutes of each meeting getting warmed up an hour or more might be wasted a day on small talk.
3. Stay focused
It’s easy to get sidetracked. It’s more difficult to stay on task but well worth the effort. Follow your agenda, and if you do find yourself on a tangent, write it down as a future action item and address it at another time.
4. Give everyone a chance to speak
Beware of one or two strong personalities hijacking your meeting. This includes you! A simple trick to give a voice to the quieter participants is to give them a moment to “jot down” their ideas, thoughts, or input to be shared with you later.
5. Clarify action items as you go
Got a long meeting and don’t want to miss anything? Flag all-important action items as you go, including:
- Does what?
- By when?
- To what standard?
- How to close the loop?
6. Recap after the meeting
After the meeting is over, send out a meeting recap email outlining the action items and discussion points that were covered in the meetings.
If needed, put the recap into your project management software as well.
Above all else, be consistent with your actions. A calendar full of pointless meetings is nothing to aspire to. A calendar full of well-planned out value-added meetings that will help propel your business forward is.