Meetings are a little like Marmite, aren’t they? You either love them or hate them, or perhaps you love to hate them. Some teams do away with meetings and some drag them out much longer than they need to be.
Poorly run meetings can leave you frustrated and losing precious time which you need to get important work done. On the flip side, having no meetings can leave you feeling a little lost, and the team potentially not on-board where you’re heading as a business. So, the question really is how can we run an efficient meeting which helps get the most of all attendees in the most efficient manner?
It’s always a personal passion of mine to get our office meetings as efficient as possible and I’m lucky to have a team that feels exactly the same way as me about meetings gaining the most amount of value in the least possible time. So, below I’ve listed my top tips for getting the most out of your future meetings which can be infinitely more efficient.
Tip 1: Pre-meeting prep.
Preparation really is the key to anything. A great meeting always has an agenda beforehand which is sent out to the attendees. Your pre-meeting agenda needs to include a few key points so that everyone sits at that table (Or a circle of bean bags, we don’t judge) knows what they’re expecting, what the meeting is for and what they need to have prepared.
Here’s my list of points:
- Title of the meeting.
- What we need to get out of the meeting.
- The time the meeting needs to take.
- An agenda of the meeting (The amount of time each person gets)
- What each person needs to have prepared when they come to the meeting.
- Meet with individual attendees beforehand to quickly discuss important points that could come up in the meeting.
- Scout out of the room and make sure you know how to work the tech.
Tip 2: Set a concrete time frame.
One of the biggest problems a meeting encounters is fluff, the chatter or tangents that taken the meeting off its desired course and eat up the time. If you’re heading up a meeting it’s important for you to keep a conscious eye on the time its taken and take responsibility of steering the meeting to reach the desire objectives.
A few tips for good meeting time keeping:
- Pre-set the amount of time the meeting should take.
- Give each person a set amount of time to talk through their points.
- Start the meeting a little earlier for everyone to arrive and settle down.
- If you see the meeting going off on a tangent, acknowledged it and politely get back on course: eg: “Great points John, but this is veering from the course of the meetings desired outcome, I’ve written this down and we can discuss this later”
Tip 3: Notes and follow up
Another fallacy of a good meeting is the fact that there’s little to no follow up after a good meeting. The whole point of the meeting is to galvanise actions and propel the project forward. We like to have one person acting as a ‘scribe’ (It can be yourself) taking all the notes and comments throughout the meeting, especially the decided actions from the attendees. The true value comes in sending all attendees a smartened-up copy of the notes and the actions that have come out of the meeting, this adds accountability to all attendees; especially if you get them to commit to deadlines.
My tips for a well-documented meeting:
- You or someone in the meeting should be writing notes throughout.
- Make sure you all leave with a set of actions to move forward.
- Get the team to commit to deadlines for their actions.
- Send over a smartened-up version of the notes to all attendees.
- Follow up with attendees on a 1-1 basis post meeting to discuss actions and hit home the points made in the meeting.
Tip 4: Bring in the right attendees
Some people just don’t need to be in the meetings, simple as that. They might even feel like they need to be (The megalomaniacs out there). But, as the organiser of the meeting it’s ultimately down to you to bring in your all-star teams who will ultimately bring the most amount of value to the meeting. Some people can simply receive the notes and actions post-meeting if they would like some insight into what came out of it.
Here’s a couple of tips for this:
- Once, twice, thrice: Go over your attendees list a few times and really think about who actually needs to be there for the desired objective of the meeting.
- Meet with some of those you’re not sure about and discuss with them whether they’d be right for the meeting and offer to send them the notes.
- Look up and chat to those who’s names you don’t recognise and decide whether them attending is going to be valuable in the meeting.
- Don’t be afraid to dice and cut the attendees list.
- Give plenty of time to adjust the list, as you don’t want to incur the wrath of someone who put off something for this meeting.
Ultimately this all comes down to cementing these actions and making a habit out of all the tips we’ve listed out here. If you come to the meeting with a pre-assigned agenda, the right people, the objective of the meeting, a list of actions and a solid follow up which people have committed to then you’re going to be renowned for hosting the best meetings in all the office!