5 ways to make your meetings more productive
Meetings are one of the most important aspects of any business – adding structure to the daily routine and creating a platform from which employees can share ideas, thoughts and concerns with one another, or new clients can be wooed and placated where necessary.
However, it’s quite easy to waste time in a meeting, particularly if organisation and leadership are not skills that come naturally to you. Fear not though, in essence, getting the most out of your meetings comes down to little more than common sense, a little foresight and the ability to calm people down when things get heated.
Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when you’re charged with corralling a bunch of excitable youngsters with the attention spans of toddlers. Your meetings need not descend into chaos though, as long as you have a strategy in place.
This should go without saying, but, as the old saying goes; “Fail to prepare and prepare to fail.” We’re not simply talking about a few bullet points, a couple of notes scribbled on the back of your hand or a rough guide, but a comprehensive, written agenda for the meeting that can be distributed amongst your workforce prior to each meeting.
If everyone knows exactly what beats the meeting is going to hit, they will not only be able to prepare their own questions, but they will have a clear, defined idea about where the meeting will be going and what they need to prepare for it. When writing your business meeting plan, consider the ultimate goal of that meeting. What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to be there? What do you want to discuss? Make sure all of these points are covered and that there are no loose ends.
Time management is an incredibly important aspect of any meeting and you are more likely to make the most of your time if you’re aware where everything is. For instance, if your meeting is to take place in a busy working environment such as car garage then a tidy environment is key, places like SGS Engineering can provide excellent storage systems.
The same should be true of a meeting room, files, projectors and pens need to be in a trusty place and easy to find to ensure meetings run smoothly.
Of course, it’s no use having a solid plan if the meeting is to take place in an environment rife with potential distractions. You should know your workers well enough to know how to get the most out of them, but if you’re working with a temporary workforce, there are a few basic tricks you can use.
- Make sure the meeting space is completely sealed off from the rest of the office. This might mean closing blinds and investing in heavier doors to keep out the sounds of the office.
- Clear any potential distractions from the room. The only thing that the employees or clients should be focusing on during the meeting is you!
- Make it a rule that all employees must leave their mobile phones at their desks.
- Even though they will have already seen the plan, restate the general goals of the meeting and remind them at what time you want the meeting to end.
Bringing them back
Even with the most efficient meeting plan and the clearest meeting room, the meeting will occasionally fall out from under your feet. When this happens, it’s important to have a reserve of tips you can use to bring the group back. One tip that always seems to work wonders is reminding people how much time you have left, this is an especially handy device to bring out if the group ever spiral off on a tangent and start talking about unrelated things.
You could also try defusing certain topics that you don’t have time to talk about during the meeting by saying you’ll “Make a note of it for later.” Finally, if someone attempts to swing the conversation a certain way before you’ve finished wrapping up a previous point, let them know you will get to it eventually, but you need to finish making your point first. Be confident. You’re the boss after all.
Every good meeting should have a beginning, a middle and an end. Wrap up your meeting with a summary of the points made and let everyone know what you feel was accomplished and what you want to bring up next time.