|Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.|
Say NO! to Inefficient, Ineffective Derailed Meetings
Is there any more tedious waste of time and productivity than many work meetings? As the witticism goes, most of them could (and really should) be emails. Like many popular sayings, though, there’s more than a kernel of truth in it. Consider how much can be accomplished with an email: it conveys a point, provides relevant information, is only distributed to those to whom it affects, gives a clear call to action, allows the sharing of feedback, and I can’t stress this enough… it ends having achieved something or having made progress toward something. Too many meetings meander aimlessly without adequate structure, lack of direction, awkward communication and little participation - only to end without much actually accomplished. Let’s explore how to set up meetings that operate more like an email to move things forward and actually make some headway when gathered around the conference table. Toward that end, I suggest implementing a meeting agenda.
A meeting agenda can keep a meeting better on track by following these general guidelines:
Plan meetings on a tight timeline - don’t take people away from their regularly scheduled duties for longer than necessary. If you finish up earlier than expected, let everyone go rather than tacking on unscheduled issues to take up the rest of the time.
Reserve meetings for collecting feedback/input, brainstorming and decision-making purposes. Information-sharing is better distributed as a verbal or written announcement.
Distribute the meeting agenda beforehand with adequate time for participants to review necessary information so they’re not utilizing valuable meeting time to read, form opinions or get up to speed.
Take time at the top of the meeting to review and - if necessary - update the agenda so the most pressing and relevant issues are addressed.
Spell out issues clearly and thoroughly so participants understand why the item is being discussed and what it is hoped will be determined by discussion.
Make sure each participant feels empowered to speak up and respectfully ask that someone clarify how an issue relates to the topic at hand if it strikes them as off-topic.
Provide a framework through which items can be tackled. A stepped process like the following could prove helpful. Allocate a certain amount of time to:
Ask that participants submit their own clearly-articulated issues for meetings so everyone feels welcome to have what they deem important considered for discussion.
Ensure that all necessary personnel are in attendance - and that those not directly involved with the outcome of the discussion are not wasting their time attending.
Allow enough time to fully explain issues and to receive feedback on them so as not to rush anyone and to enable people to be conscious of the amount of time they take to share.
Include time for a meeting debrief where the success of the meeting is determined. Discuss what went well, what needs improvement/tweaking moving forward and everyone’s evaluation of the effectiveness of the meeting. Move the debrief from this meeting to the top of the next one so as to remind participants of their efficient, on-track intentions.
Like an email, a good meeting employs strong communication, is informative, collaborative and moves the ball further down the field. A well-planned meeting agenda can save you and your employees from the frustration of wasted time, inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Here’s to better meetings that should indeed be meetings!
How effective, efficient and on-topic are your business’ typical meetings?
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