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Six Habits to Help You Have Highly Effective Meetings

by SUMMIT on April 14th, 2015

Six Habits to Help You Have Highly Effective Meetings

Meetings are a necessary evil in the business world. They fill a large share of your working hours. However, very few organizations can say that they derive significant ROI from meetings. According to a Salary.com survey, U.S. professionals consider meetings the number one productivity killer in the office. A U.K. study reports a similar finding. It indicates the average office employee spends almost 16 hours each week in meetings — over 800 hours annually. Should you stop wasting your precious time on this mind-numbing tedious task that earns zero return on investment? Should meetings be done away with?

Absolutely not. Meetings are necessary. Therefore, it is essential that you make them as effective and productive as possible. More often than not, successful organizations are holding meetings that result in great outcomes and provide clear direction to staff. They brainstorm, and help generate innovative ideas during these meetings. They definitely don’t waste their employees’ time. So how do they do it?

Here are six habits that can help you hold meetings that produce tangible results.

  1. Have a Clear Agenda

Before you call a meeting, you need to create and write your meeting agenda, and have it reflect your teams’ long-term and short-term goals. This material will act as your guide. It must be provided to all attendees at least a day or two before the meeting so they are all on the same page and can prepare accordingly. This helps you get straight to the point, and saves time in the long run.

  1. Consider who is Invited

You don’t need your entire team for the meeting. Assess if each individual is really required to attend. For example, if you’re announcing a change, you will only need the people who will be affected by it. If the agenda is to resolve certain office issues, invite those people who are directly involved, and who might contribute valuable feedback for a solution.

  1. Timebox the Topics

Time management is crucial to holding an effective meeting; otherwise, it ends up unfocused and unproductive. Schedule how much time you will spend on each topic and stick to it. Keep chatty individuals in check. To avoid the conversation dragging on endlessly, schedule twenty minutes for each topic, and move on when time’s up.

  1. Manage Off Topic Discussions

This one is a major time killer. Use the Parking Lot concept to manage this issue. Basically, when off-topic discussions arise, park them, so they don’t interrupt the focus and goals of your meeting agenda. But be sure and follow up on these issues, are they are obviously important to the person who raised them. Ask everyone to focus their discussions on the given agenda so that the meeting ends on time. Take notes of each topic discussion and get feedback from attendees. When an unrelated but interesting point is raised, write it down in your parking lot and include it in your next meeting’s agenda to explore further.

  1. Follow Up

Finally, following up on a meeting important yet often ignored. Much is forgotten once people step out of the meeting room. In fact, it’s common to have participants walk away from a meeting with totally different ideas about what just went on. Therefore, it is vital to distribute the salient points of the meetings – responsibilities, delegated tasks, deadlines, core solutions, etc., – among the participating team members after the meeting is over.

  1. Decide If the Meeting is Necessary

This habit is really about knowing when to message, and when to meet. Most information we discuss in meetings can be easily conveyed through email or instant messages, saving a lot of your time. If that is not the case, your next option is to consider if the topic can be covered in a 5 minute in-person chat. Only call for a meeting when the topics are too complex to message, or require many attendees.

You can even create a private LinkedIn group for your company, where members from different departments can participate and share concerns and opinions. Webinars and online videoconferencing are also ideal options.

Get in the habit of holding productive, efficient meetings. Your team will thank you.

photo credit: Preparing the workshop room via photopin (license)

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