“Meetings” and “productivity” — two words that rarely go together. But they should!
We may not love them, but meetings are a necessary evil.
The key is finding ways to make them efficient and effective, so your team can walk away feeling energized and excited about work.
Here are some tips for making them a little less “evil” at your agency.
1. Always start on time.
Starting meetings late is a huge waste of time, and it can also be frustrating for those who show up on time. Three people waiting an average of five minutes per meeting for a fourth person to arrive can easily add up to hours of lost productivity per year.
2. Always end on time.
On the flip side, meetings that start on time should also end on time. If meetings drag on with no end in sight, your team will lose focus. It helps to have a plan (see the next tip) and to set time limits for each agenda item.
3. Stick to an agenda.
Ideally 24 hours before a meeting, you should circulate an agenda for the meeting, an outline that lays out everything you plan to cover. Each item should be allotted a specific amount of time, so you can keep the meeting on track. Once you’re in the meeting, put the agenda up on a screen or in some other visible area for everybody to see.
4. Make it exclusive.
When you’re calling a meeting, take time to consider who needs to be there. If you’re trying to solve a problem, only invite the people who have the knowledge and skills to help you fix it. If you’re announcing a change, only invite the people who will be affected.
5. Give everyone a turn.
If you’ve taken the time to invite only the people that need to be there, make sure they have a chance to contribute. Multiple points of view can help you make better decisions. Being loud does not necessarily correlate with the capacity to contribute.
6. Stay on topic.
The occasional tangent is okay and can lead to some unexpected discoveries, but you should be vigilant about guiding the discussion back on topic. The agenda will help keep you on track. If you uncover a new topic during a meeting, consider scheduling a meeting to discuss it at another time.
7. End with clear action items.
You may come up with great ideas during a meeting, but those ideas are useless if they’re not documented and assigned out. End each meeting by recapping what you covered and what each team member should do next.
8. Send a follow up.
It’s not unusual for different people to come away from a meeting with different interpretations of what went down. Within 24 hours, write up an overview of what was accomplished and send it to the team. This will help keep everyone on the same page.
Meetings may not be everyone's (or anyone’s) cup of tea, but when they’re run efficiently, they can be extremely effective. Keep to a schedule, have a plan, and follow up with action items. Who knows? Maybe your team will start looking forward to meetings. Maybe.