Meetings in the workplace are an effective way to communicate information and to keep everyone on schedule regarding projects. This is especially true in government. Government by construct uses a kind of chain of command because this seems the most efficient way to get things done. Having said this, it is logical that managers would have regular meetings to keep their department’s work and projects on track.
However, even though meetings are a fact of work life, they do not have to be drudgery. Here are some ways to conduct more productive meetings:
Keep Them Short
Keep the meeting short if you can. If you are like me, sitting through a long, drawn-out meeting is agonizing – and frankly can be a waste of time. Meetings are an important way to coordinate projects and relay information but can be abbreviated to an extent.
Believe it or not, some executive consultants recommend a 30 to 45 minute meeting. This may seem too short of a period to really get things done but consider the alternative of losing the attention of your audience during a long session. Having a meeting of this brevity will require discipline from the person in charge but can force attendees to focus and state their points.
Make Them Fun
At some point in the future, try an icebreaker if you are facilitating a meeting. I know that this sounds corny – because most of the time it is. An option is to do some research on the internet to see which icebreakers are people’s favorites. There are short games, quizzes and facts about each person present that can revitalize your get together.
I have attended several meetings that I enjoyed because of this. Having a break to get to know each other better or to have a laugh will relax and refresh the audience. It would be a bummer to go through work life dreading meetings.
Incorporate More Listening
Most of us have been at meetings chaired by a person that likes to talk. I don’t want to get too close to a value judgment here because some of my favorite people are talkers. Their method of relaying information or getting updates on projects is done through significant verbal processing.
My point is to try to be disciplined and practice listening when it appears that another is making a good contribution or helping the process along. There should be a natural ebb and flow of communicating and listening. A good manager must work on the important skill of listening.
Meetings can and should be an effective way to communicate information and to keep projects on schedule. This is a necessity in any business and particularly in government. Government by design has a defined hierarchical system to accomplish its directive which is that of using the taxpayer’s money most effectively. Managers should keep in mind, however, that even with meetings being a mainstay in the work setting to keep people and projects on track, it does not mean that getting together should be a long and arduous task.
Tim Dendy is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.
Thanks for the tips! It’s always helpful to hear how others approach hosting more productive and engaging meetings. I really like small group icebreakers because it’s great for introverts who might not be as comfortable talking in big groups and it helps you to get to know your co-workers better. At my office we’ve broken into groups by youngest, oldest, and middle child and each group had 5 minutes to come up with advantages and disadvantages to being part of that group. And we’ve done other versions of that same icebreaker like grouping up according to hometowns/regions. Always a fun one!
I like the idea of keeping meetings shorter. Even if you have to have a series of meetings, keeping them short makes them far more digestible, but also allows for a Q&A time at the end (depending on the meeting) that doesn’t feel tacked on/doesn’t make the meeting seem like it’s dragging.
Good comments. A lot can be accomplished in a short period of time when everyone is fresh and focused.