Are Your Meetings Productive?

There are lots of meetings everyday whether it be for work, social or personal business. But how many of those meetings are really essential?  Do you find yourself walking away from them with valuable information? Or are they just meetings for the sake of having meetings? If this is the case, then you should probably look for other methods to communicate information.

The Oxford dictionary defines the word meeting as “an assembly of people for a particular purpose, especially for formal discussion“.

Everyone’s time is valuable, there are only so many hours in the day which you get to live . Twenty four hours to be exact. You cannot increase that time. There are no more hours to gain. So everything you do in your day to day life must be as productive and effective as possible.

There are a few simple steps we can all follow to ensure the meetings held are really necessary and get the most value from them.

Set the agenda in advance

This includes making sure everyone knows the purpose of the meeting. If there is an agenda with set discussion items, there will be less chance of unrelated business raised.

Start the meeting on time

Have you ever been to a meeting where half the attendees are late or someone enters the room when the meeting has already started? The chairperson then has to go over everything again, thus extending the meeting out further. Lateness also shows a lack of consideration for other people in the room who have managed to arrive on time. Remember, their time was precious too.

Ensure the right people are invited

This is perhaps the main reason why meetings are not as productive as they should be. Are the people you invite really the best decision makers or experts you need in the room? Do those people have to seek approvals or advice after the meeting has finished before a decision can be made. If so, invite THOSE people to the meeting. It will also mean less meetings are required to get an outcome.

Chairperson to keep everyone on task

The chairperson has the important role to ensure the meeting starts on time, runs smoothly, and finishes on time. They also need to ensure that one person does not dominate the discussion, thus making the meeting run over time. They are also there to ensure everyone has input into decisions. The chairperson will also ensure meaningless discussion is kept to a minimum and decisions are made.

Set meetings at the right time and the appropriate length

Don’t set meetings too early or too late in the day and they should never run for more than an hour. Why? People get bored sitting in a room for extended periods of time. Their attention falters and their productivity decreases which results in an ineffective meeting. Everyone has times of the day when they are most productive and alert. These are the times when a meeting will be most effective. Find out from your attendees what those times are and schedule appropriately. Mid morning is generally a good time to schedule meetings when the attendees have settled in and are the most alert.

Ensure there are decisions made at the end of the meeting and what the next steps are

Finish the meeting with firm decisions on what the action items are. Who will be responsible for each task and when it is due.  Don’t leave the meeting without ensuring important decisions are made. Most importantly, know what will be on the agenda for the next meeting so everyone will come  prepared.

These steps are just the start to ensure that your meetings are as productive as possible and that everyone gets the most out them. After all, you really only have a limited number of hours to work with. You want to ensure not all of those hours are spent in endless meetings.

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