The mechanics of meetings seem to be so simple that almost everyone thinks they got it right. Unfortunately, a lot of us still tend to assume there is no need to stick to agenda nor the meeting time. But reality is a bit different. If you want effective meetings, everyone needs to do that extra mile and prepare a little bit ahead. Not only is that kind of preparation logical, but also shows participants’ mutual respect towards each other’s valuable time.
1. Arrive on time…or arrive quietly
The simplest and one of the most important rules of behaviour. Yet, as we all know, it’s not always easy to manage your day filled up with multiple meetings, often one after another. If you’re late, for whatever the reason, then slip into a meeting room as discreetly as possible to minimise the general disruption. Storming through the door with “Hello everyone!” does not help in keeping the group focused.
2. Set the meeting goal beforehand
This way, participants can prepare for the meeting and think ahead about how they can contribute. In the beginning shortly remind participants why you are meeting and what is the goal that you want to accomplish. Throughout the meeting, try to stick to the initial plan and don’t get carried away too much. If an important, outside-the-agenda point comes up, note it and discuss in the end or at a separate meeting (but only if necessary).
3. Listen or Speak
Agree with the participants that only one person should speak at a time. Use a simple analogy – we have 2 ears to hear, but only 1 mouth to talk. Try to speak only if you feel your voice would add something constructive to the discussion. Avoid multitasking at all costs and only use an electronic device if you’re the one taking notes for the group.
4. End the meeting by letting everyone check out
Conclude what was discussed by hearing 1-min points from everyone. Make sure that you do not neglect anyone’s voice as some of us are naturally lean towards introversion and extraversion. Also, bear in mind that people at different levels at the company may have different perception of matters discussed so it’s important to accommodate for different perspectives as much as possible.
5. Share notes with all participants afterwards
Be it action points, follow-ups, recordings, photos or just notes. Make sure that they are clear and everyone has received them. What seems obvious 5 minutes after the meeting, will be probably lost after a month and any written record will be of tremendous help.
Remember that the change starts with you. Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. Yet, if you elaborate on why you want to change the meeting status quo, people will understand the simple tweaks. After all, if we do not care for one other’s time, we all lose in the end.
Ready to improve your meeting productivity?