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Make Your Next Meeting More Effective

Whether you love meetings or hate them, they’re a necessary part of day-to-day life in the professional world. And at this point in your career, you’ve probably sat through a wide variety of meetings that range from very effective to a complete waste of time.

In an effort to shake up traditional meetings and make them more meaningful, some companies have moved towards mixing up how they do them. For example, standing meetings, walking meetings, and ice breakers at the beginning of meetings have become more commonplace. But are these really the best ways to hold the most effective meetings for agencies full of busy people?

Fortunately, this week’s NextGen Leadership post took the guess work out of it and brings you four tips to making your next meeting more effective.

  1. Invite only who is necessary. A good way to start a meeting off on the right foot is ensuring that the guest list is appropriate for the particular occasion. Go over who you are inviting and ask yourself if each person really needs to be there. If someone isn’t completely necessary, take them off the calendar invite—they’ll be grateful to have the time back in their day and you’ll have an easier time controlling and keeping discussion focused in the meeting. If you are unsure about adding or subtracting a few people, consider briefing them in a summary email instead of insisting they sit in on the entire meeting.
  1. Have an agenda. Once you know who is coming to your meeting, set an agenda outline to focus the time you have during the meeting. Your meeting will be significantly more effective if you outline what needs to be covered rather than aimlessly dancing around the points. Set your objectives early in the meeting so you know what needs to be accomplished during the time you have. Stick to the agenda but be flexible if the situation allows it. If the conversation goes in a different direction than you thought it would but it is still moving the meeting towards accomplishing the goals, let it happen.
  1. Focus on discussion, not overview. Avoid wasting time in meetings reading materials off a paper that could have easily been consumed beforehand. As the organizer, you should send out materials in advance so people are caught up on the context of the meeting and you can use your designated time for discussion. Additionally, make the goals and agenda for the meeting clear ahead of time so your team members can go into the meeting with an outline of their own ideas that they want to contribute.
  1. Recap and look forward. During the meeting, make sure someone is taking notes about the major points that are being addressed. Having an outline of what was accomplished during the meeting ensures that you can assess whether or not your goals were met and help shape subsequent meetings on the topic. Furthermore, these notes can help you brief people who weren’t in the meeting but still need to be informed on what happened in it.

Have a meeting tip that we didn’t mention? Be sure to put it in the comments! Additionally, for more information on all things professional development, check out all of the NextGen Leadership program’s blogs here.

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Monika

Good points. A few other things to consider:

*Have a purpose to your meeting – not just an agenda. “As a result of this meeting, we will …. ”
*start the meeting on time
*Keep note of the decisions made, not just key discussions
*before you wrap up the meeting, check – did this meeting accomplish its original objective? Have we fulfilled the meeting’s purpose?
*And restate your decisions before the end of the meeting – review deadlines/assignments, confirm communication methods to others

“7 things go wrong in meetings: 1) treating meetings as free, 2) confusing activity with achievement, 3) winging it, 4) poor prioritizing, 5) inviting the wrong people, 6) minutes vs. decisions, 7) failing to improve.” LeadershipIQ

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Profile Photo Aaron

Monika, I agree with your “minutes vs. decisions” idea. Meeting minutes are nice because it provides a recap for those who were not in the room; however, I usually only skim over meeting notes to look for the action items. In a perfect world, I’d bring a laptop, tablet, or mobile device that I can create to-do’s on the spot and assign them via email to individuals.

I also think that decision without action usually results in a failure to implement the decisions. Whenever I leave a meeting wondering, “so what is my responsibility?” I consider that a waste of time. If I leave a meeting with no action items, then I also consider that a potential waste of time.

Action items should be personalized to the individual. For example, saying, “Aaron will [complete this task] by [date].” is going to get more of my attention than a generic action item listed on a page with no name attached. If meeting attendees do not “buy-in” to the process, then there will be slow progress because no one is taking responsibility for success.

Thanks, Monika, for sharing your tips. Thank you, Courtney, for writing this article.

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