Work Smarter to get Optimal Production out of Meetings
With your busy schedule, making the most out of each meeting you attend is key to maximizing your time and efforts. When not managed properly, meetings seem to spawn more meetings. Handled correctly, however, you can collaborate, make decisions, and complete work more efficiently.
Set an agenda…and stick to it!
Ahead of time, write down the big items that will need to be discussed in the meeting and any action items that need to be addressed. As you run the meeting, stay true to your list, heading down it item by item and working through to either a solution or identifying exactly who will be taking on any tasks. Don’t allow the meeting to be derailed with anything else that may come up; keep a separate list to jot those items down to be dealt with next time.
Everyone on the team that will be attending the meeting should know what items they are responsible for, and be prepared to discuss any issues, questions, or results they may need to bring up. Unpreparedness is a waste of time, and thus a waste of money. Come to the meeting knowing what you need to discuss and ready to actively contribute.
Designate a leader
As you begin the meeting, let everyone know that you (or someone else) is going to act as a facilitator, keeping the meeting on track, maintaining meeting structure (like staying true to that agenda!), and helping to delve deeper into topics that need to have more discussion. Having a leader will keep your meetings efficient and help you to get more accomplished.
Don’t allow for too many cooks
When meetings become overcrowded, thoughts and ideas can become overcrowded as well. If too many people are involved in a meeting, each attempting to make their own voice heard, it will only contribute confusion and delay in making decisions that need to be made. Keep the attendance list to those who really need to be involved and have a stake in the issue or project being discussed.
While it can be tempting, and second nature, to have your phone or tablet out and be checking emails or texts during your meetings, refrain. Not only is it rude, it detracts your attention from the matters at hand, as multitasking like this can actually be detrimental to your productivity.
Use time wisely
Don’t allow too much idle chatter or water cooler talk in the beginning, and start the meeting on time. Respect that other people will have schedules they need to stick to as well, and be sure to end your meetings on time, or even early if all major points have been discussed.
Set a time limit
Advise team members and meeting attendees of the start and stop time that is scheduled for the meeting. About 10 minutes before the scheduled end time, let everyone know you’ve got just a little bit of time left and advise as to whether it is a hard stop or there is some leeway to continue if needed.
Post meeting, write down any big decisions made, and action items that need to take place, and send it out in a follow up email right away. Set deadlines and identify specific people who need to take on each task item so there are no questions as to who is responsible for what.