How to Optimise Meetings
Practically anyone who has ever worked for a business has at sometime been called into a meeting.
For managers and leaders it’s part and parcel of their week. You can’t really avoid them.
Ask any business owner what they would like to change about meetings and they’ll probably say making them more profitable.
Getting the most out these get togethers is important.
The good news is that setting down a few regular markers and processes should help you to do just that.
Everyone has their own tips for getting through meetings. Richard Branson, for instance, advises:
“One of my favourite tricks is to conduct most of my meetings standing up. I find it to be a much quicker way of getting down to business, making a decision and sealing the deal.”
Here are some of our quick tips on how to make sure you optimise meetings in the future:
Is It Worth a Meeting?
We can get into the habit of having meetings for practically everything.
It’s something that happens more often in larger businesses and is a pattern that really needs to be monitored closely.
Managers and leaders will certainly find their calendar building up with meetings of one type or another.
The problem is that these can stop you getting on with the work that you’re paid to do.
Meetings should only be organised if there is a purpose for them and you should always, always have a fixed agenda for what you are going to discuss and make decisions on.
Set the Agenda
Agendas can be tricky things to compile, especially when everyone wants to get their bit in.
Ask yourself what the purpose of the meeting is and create the agenda that focuses on this.
The less certain you are about what a meeting is supposed to achieve, the more likely it is to run on or meander.
While you need to get the input of other team members, you still need to keep a firm hand on the reins.
Once the agenda is written, you should disseminate it to the attendees so they know what is going to be discussed.
Set some strict guidelines if it helps – this is what we are going to discuss, this is how much time we’ll spend on each item.
Be Careful Who You Invite
While a failure to optimise meetings may be down to unclear objectives, it can also be caused by inviting the right people.
Does a certain individual need to attend?
What are they going to contribute?
Do they just need to be informed of what decisions were made?
The fewer people you invite, the less chance there is for the meeting to go off the agenda.
And the shorter you can keep it.
Keep it Short
There’s a general rule that any meeting will go on to fill the time that you have allotted to it.
If you’ve set aside two hours, chances are you’ll go for that length of time (and perhaps a lot longer).
The shorter you keep things the more likely people are to stay focused and follow the agenda.
Start On Time
A lot of time can be wasted with people getting coffee, chatting to other team members or simply getting to their seat.
Make sure that the meeting starts exactly on time and keep your eye on the clock to ensure you finish at the expected time too.
This means taking a reasonably strong hand in guiding the meeting and moving.
It’s also helped by setting clear parameters which everyone agrees to.
Of all the above tips, deciding whether you need the meeting at all is probably the most important.
You may well find that half the items you consider can be resolved in different ways that are less labour intensive and time consuming if you take a moment or two to think about it.
Our advice is to put this top of our list when you are organising any meeting.