And since your main focus is to, um, plan meetings for your company, why not set an example for everyone who calls these meetings? How, you ask. By establishing clear, common ground rules for making meetings matter.
Depending on where you fall in the company hierarchy, this may be impossible. But if you are inclined to take the lead, these guidelines should help steer things in the right direction:
Make speed-meeting your new friend
- Make sure there’s a concise agenda, preferably with an assigned timeline, and then appoint someone to keep the group on target.
- Have that person make an expressive gesture at the start by taking off their watch and placing it in front of them, or starting the timer on their computer. Everyone should see they mean business.
- Use gentle reminders throughout discussions to stay focused, ensure timely responses and help move things forward.
- If necessary, announce times for scheduled pauses and remind everyone how much time is being allotted for this activity and where it will fall in the agenda.
- Respect your timeline by promptly starting and ending with — or without — all invited parties.
Invite only those who are necessary
This also means inviting those who have something meaningful to contribute. The only exception should be someone who attends purely to learn or observe. After the meeting, publish a quick, concise recap pertinent to anyone who did not attend. Use these notes to answer anything you’d have questions about if you hadn’t been there either.
If you expect people to come prepared, clearly establish what that means and what they need to bring to the meeting. Do this via a published agenda or by sending reminders that a specific report, update or device will be expected. Be direct about who to hold accountable for this action.
Define your purpose
Are you gathering to talk about a new product or to brainstorm for next year’s marketing campaign? Established your goals before the meeting, with a clear end-purpose in mind. This helps establish the right mindset so your meeting is purposeful and achieves what you want it to.
If you’re meeting to brainstorm or stimulate creativity, you might want to rethink your company’s standard meeting practices. Consider moving the group outdoors, or gather everyone in a circle with comfy lounge chairs. This encourages inspired thinking and breaks negative habits that tend to linger in stale, overused meeting environments.
Finally, it’s important to remember that some meetings are best forgotten. If you’re struggling to find the time, put an agenda together or get adequate staff participation, that meeting probably should be canceled.
This concept is hard for some companies to absorb, especially if they use meetings to handle everything. Perhaps in the long run, it’s better for your employees to spend more quality time at their desks dealing with actual work than in strategy meetings full of repetitive discussions.
What tips can you add to this discussion? Do these ideas work for you or do you have other? Please leave your comments in the space below.