Meetings should deliver the desired outcomes i.e. constructively planning strategies, formulating new ideas, and taking crucial decisions. When meetings are conducted efficiently, they are productive and utilize everyone’s time well. Meetings in your organization could be well-organized and effective too, making good use of time and resources. Here are a few tips for making meetings more efficient:
8 tips for making meetings more efficient
Is your meeting necessary?
The first thing to be done before having a meeting is to find out whether you can achieve the same goals by circulating memos or talking individually to the concerned people, or maybe you can communicate with a conference call. If you feel that you do not have something substantial to contribute, you can avoid the meeting.
Be clear about the meeting’s agenda
A clear agenda is important for a successful meeting. It is one of the most effective meeting strategies that you can use. One of the factors which make meetings unproductive is not having a clear agenda. You should write down at least one paragraph which states the purpose of the meeting. You should write down the objective of the meeting too.
What makes a successful meeting is having clarity about the reasons for the meeting. Make a list of all the points that have to be covered in the meeting. List the names of the people who are going to address that particular point. This list can then be circulated amongst the concerned employees, which will give them ample time to prepare a concise and to the point explanation. You can prepare an agenda for any meeting, whether it is with your bosses or subordinates, with suppliers and customers and so on.
Every person will have different expectations from the meeting. As you have sent the invite to the meeting, you have to set down what exactly YOU are looking for, so that the meeting is under control. You have to share the format and the materials for the meeting. For example, do you want a PowerPoint presentation filled with slides and details? Or do you want an effective brief presentation? Relevant information has to be shared so that the decision makers can take key decisions. As one of the tips for making meetings more efficient, sharing your expectations is an important one.
Starting and stopping on time
According to studies, inefficient meetings waste a lot of time. But meetings are necessary. They are a tool to exchange information, solve problems, and reviewing the progress of projects.
What makes a successful meeting is starting and stopping at the specified time. Most companies have a start time but do not have an ending time. You could imitate the practice of some companies which lock their doors on the inside as the meetings begin. Latecomers are not allowed inside. This measure seems to be quite effective in getting people to report on time for the next meeting!
When you make the agenda, follow the very effective 80/20 rule. Cover your topmost 20% of items first. So if there is no time left, you will at least have finished discussing the most important points. Thus, you will get 80% of value from the meeting.
Summarize each discussion
To make your discussions in the meeting useful, don’t forget to summarize the discussions. This will give you closure. Also, you would know how to proceed in that particular matter in future. Be sure to have everyone agree on the items of discussion, to avoid confusion in future. Reiterating what the decision has been will make it memorable for all those attending the meeting. This is one of the best tips for making meetings more efficient.
Be a little flexible
Though we have discussed having a fixed agenda, sometimes being too rigid may foil the purpose of the meeting. You have to be attuned to the requirements of your audience. If someone points out that the need of the hour is something else, you should be flexible enough to change the direction of the meeting. Finishing the meeting and showing slides is not the purpose of the meeting. It is more about getting a new direction.
You will find that as you develop your company’s culture, the number of meetings will decrease. Plus, the meetings but that you will have to hold will be effective and productive.