You just received notice of an upcoming meeting. “Ugh,” you cry. “Not another meeting!” You roll your eyes and wonder how you’ll survive yet another hour of useless babble.
Why are meetings so detested? Simple. Many are so poorly planned and executed they are a waste of time. That’s a shame. Done properly, a meeting is a very effective way to disseminate information to a group. Follow these steps so that your next meeting is a success.
Review need for meeting. Do you even need to call a meeting? A broadcast e-mail or other message can be just as effective, and doesn’t pull your employees away from their desks. Don’t call a meeting out of habit. Have a purpose in mind.
Consider who should attend. Invite only those who can either contribute to or gain from the discussion. Don’t include every Tom, Dick and Harry merely because they regularly attend meetings. Those with just a passing need for the information can be informed via e-mail or other form of communication.
Select appropriate person to lead. Choose the person with experience or knowledge. Meetings do not have to be lead by a manager or supervisor. Junior personnel gain valuable experience by leading a discussion. Doing so will free up a supervisor (perhaps that’s you).
Limit your topics. Keep to at most three subjects. Any more, and you may overload your audience or run long. Consider calling another meeting for the other topics. Review your audience again. It may be different for those topics.
Keep it short. Thirty minutes is good. Use more time only if it’s necessary. Remember that time is valuable. Your employees are more productive when they’re at their desks and workstations. Plus, as the meeting wears on, people’s thoughts tend to wander. Part of that extra time can be due to extraneous discussion. Make sure you keep the meeting on topic.
Review your material. Edit your text so you get right to the point. Review to ensure you cover your topics thoroughly. That will minimize misunderstandings and questions. If possible, rehearse so you cover the material smoothly and confidently. Make certain any equipment you use works flawlessly.
Be punctual. Lead by example. If you say you’ll start at 2:00, do so. Don’t sit around waiting for the stragglers to arrive. Be courteous to those who are there on time. The others will learn soon enough that you mean business.
End with conviction. When you’re done, you’re done. Don’t drag out the meeting just to fill the time. And be careful about asking for questions at the end. That could lead to an extended meeting. Consider taking questions afterward one-on-one.
Meetings have their place in any business. Make the effort to ensure yours are a meaningful use of time.
Have you encountered a “meeting from hell”? Or, perhaps an example of a well-run meeting? Tell us about it! If you found value in this column, could you do me a favor and share it with others? To contact me, send an email.