Meetings they are ingrained in our business culture. They can accomplish many things that cannot be completed via emails, memos, or phone calls in a group setting. Meetings encourage teamwork, creativity, and information sharing. Therefore, they not only serve as a cultural norm, but as a necessity that cultivate businesses’ greatest asset, human interaction. In fact, when run properly, meetings can be almost magical. They can achieve many business priorities.
However, often times our meetings run over time and frequently accomplish little on the agenda. This inefficiency of meetings often causes many of us to dread them. Granting the unique nature of meetings, here are five tips to facilitate effective meetings:
1. Agenda: Create an agenda and send it out ahead of time. This allows participants enough time to process and provide input about the agenda before the meeting. It also allows participants time to brainstorm ideas. Secondly, agendas are meeting’s guidelines. They should not only detail specific talking points but also specify goals/objectives of the meeting. An agenda is a roadmap to your destination.
2. Time: A facilitator should be aware of time. This means starting on time and ending on time. Good time management builds rapport amongst the facilitator and participants. Participants trust a facilitator that starts and ends on time. Trust promotes participation and attentiveness in meetings. Ultimately allowing meetings to achieve there end goal.
3. People: Invitations should go to the people that can contribute to the goal of the meeting. This saves the time of participants and stimulates efficiency. Likewise, a facilitator needs to be able to recognize and manage the various group dynamics that occur in meetings. One group dynamic that can occur and quickly derail a meeting is a “monopolizer,” the person who talks more than his or her fair share of the meeting. A strategy to manage this person is the “parking lot” method, which is when you put non-agenda items off until the end of the meeting, and politely telling the monoplizer you want to give everyone an opportunity to share.
4. Examine the Process: The last 5 – 10 minutes of the meeting should be used to examine the meeting. It should look at what worked well, what needs to be improved and how people feel about the tasks that need to be accomplished. This may seem like a minor step, but a debrief provides an opportunity for all people to feel heard and ensure the team has a united plan. More importantly, it provides an opportunity to learn how to better manage the next meeting.
5. Follow-up: A proper follow-up occurs in 48 hours in writing to all participants. This follow-up should detail tasks, task leaders, deadlines and any unfinished business to be followed up in the next meeting.
Meetings can be overwhelming when not done properly. They can waste the resources of the company and decrease staff effectiveness. However, when done effectively and efficiently meetings can be the catalyst to take projects to the next level.