How familiar does this sound? “Why do we have to have so many meetings?” or “I hate meetings.”
Anybody involved with being a leader in an organization know that meetings take up as much as 50% of the average workday. And for those that are in the start-up phase of an entrepreneurial endeavor know that number is often even higher. But how closely do we examine our meeting habits to determine the value they bring to our bottom lines?
Rereading a piece in Inc. Magazine from several years ago on the subject was a great reminder of how important it is to understand the impact meetings have on my organization’s productivity.
For example, as the first quarter of 2019 comes to a close and you look back on what went right during the first three months of the year, entrepreneurs, leaders and managers automatically look at predictable indicators, including sales numbers, achievement of cost savings or maybe the success of your marketing campaigns.
While all of these indicators are important, it is how are meetings are conducted and organized that can serve as a “real time” KPI and help steer your organization towards success. Just as you “entrepreneurial elevator pitch” can open up doors to start-up investment, good management of your organization’s meeting culture can help leaders maintain a steady cadence towards business success.
I know, meetings seem like the least important activities businesses (and their leaders) participate in. In fact, we’ve previous noted in this blog that the four major activities businesses must master are Decision Making, Organizing, Controlling and Leading. Establishing a meeting structure is an essential subset of the Management Process.
Below are 7 ways you can improve effectiveness and impact of your meetings:
Establish the ‘why’
Make sure each meeting that is convened has a clear objective or purpose. Don’t just meet for meeting’s sake. If there is no discernible outcome that you are aiming for, the meeting isn’t worth happening.
Pick the right people
Make sure that the right people are in the meeting. That means people who have decision-making authority; people who’s creativity on the subject can offer unseen alternative solutions; and key leaders of the activities being discussed should be the core members of important meetings.
Keep it short
There are no rules that say every meeting must last at least an hour. Meetings as short as 15 minutes can be very effective, provided you prepare well for each.
Build an agenda
An agenda is important for the flow of meetings. It is also important for memorializing decisions and assignments. But maybe the most important, agendas are designed to help you (and your team) be productive.
Design the structure
Whether it’s a reporting-out meeting, an update meeting or a brainstorming session, each meeting should be designed in a way where there are pre-specifications that are measurable. This allows meeting facilitators to opportunity to evaluate the relative success of their meeting styles.
If you have the right people in a room, then every voice in the room has an important contribution to the success of the meeting. Make sure everyone has an opportunity to share their perspectives.
Get agreement and follow up
An effective agenda helps participants get agreement on the relevance of specific issues, thereby allowing for the editing of items to be discussed. Once decisions are made in a meeting, there needs to be an acknowledgment of all of the follow up activities that are assigned.
If you have other meeting design suggestions to increase productivity, please share your ideas in the comment section below.