How To Have More Productive Meetings
As a business owner and former corporate employee, I've had my fair share of meetings. And even if you're not working, chances are you will still run into meetings - whether it's for your children's school, charity, church, little league or other organization. There's just no way around them! So here are four tips for making your meetings more productive and avoiding what I call "meeting coma". (You know, where you go into a super long time consuming meeting and everyone leaves wondering what just happened and what you're supposed to do!)
Tip 1: Be Prepared! Have An Agenda and Let Everyone Know About It
That's right. A little preparation can save you some wasted time in the meeting! Everyone should know exactly what the meeting is for and what decisions will be discussed or made. Emailing an agenda to the meeting participants will keep everyone informed. Also, try to prepare any materials or handouts beforehand, so you don't feel rushed.
Tip 2: Watch The Clock and Stick To Your Agenda
Try to make a sincere effort to start and most importantly, end the meeting on time. People start to zone out in meetings that get sidetracked with other issues and last for hours. Following your agenda will help keep everyone focused and try to keep the conversation both brief and concise.
Tip 3: Be Respectful
Getting through a productive meeting requires cooperation among all participants. It may be good to set a few ground rules at the beginning of the meeting or in the agenda email you send out beforehand. Generally, I ask that people set their phones aside during the meeting so they can be focused on getting through the meeting expeditiously. Meeting participants should also respect others by not interrupting. Let everyone who has a different viewpoint be allowed to challenge ideas, but do so with respect and courtesy. Don't make it personal!
Tip 4: Take Notes and/or Document Follow Up Tasks with Due Dates
Most decisions made in meetings require follow up actions, which is why in our business, we use this super awesome tool called Asana. In almost every meeting I run, I make sure to document and assign any follow up tasks (with due dates) to my team members right there in the meeting. Asana lets me view my teammates progress on the tasks, as well as notifies me if my team hits any roadblocks. Doing this prevents "meeting coma" and pushes the group towards productivity! Everyone leaves my meetings knowing exactly what our next steps and due dates are and gives them some accountability for it. If your team is not on Asana, never fear! Just take notes and send a follow up email within 24 hours, detailing the decisions made and next steps with due dates, so you know everyone is on the same page.