Executive meetings, staff meetings, planning meetings, pre-planning meetings, follow-up meetings, you name it, and there probably has been or will be a meeting to discuss it.
As the frequency and diversity of meetings has increased it seems that often times the effectiveness and productivity of those same meetings has exponentially decreased. Most participants quickly determine whether a meeting is productive and will yield results or if the meeting is merely a formality in keeping with some predetermined agenda or business system. Though attendees recognize the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the meeting, the mere formality enables it to continue.
Are you a part of or are you leading ineffective, unnecessary, and often costly meetings that provide little benefit to the organization? Whether you are a meeting attendee or meeting organizer the following 3 tips will help improve the effectiveness of many of the meetings you will encounter during the year.
1. Prepare a timed agenda and distribute in advance.
An agenda by itself is valuable, but true productivity demands time be allotted to each agenda item. Timing each discussion ensures that 1 item does not consume the entire time allotted for the meeting. Assign someone to monitor the length of the discussions and keep the group on task. Timing each item doesn’t necessarily mean that a discussion has to end simply because time is up. As the end of the allotted time approaches a group consensus can be reached on whether the discussion is important enough to continue, if a vote can be called, or if the discussion should be carried forward til the next meeting. Being aware of time enables the group to proactively keep a meeting on task and still accomplish critical decisions in spite of debate or extended discussions.
In addition,distributing the agenda in advance allows ample time for meeting members to comment on the structure of the agenda. If an item is of particular importance to an individual and they feel the time allotted to the discussion is inadequate, concessions can be made in other areas of the meeting in advance.
2. Meet only when necessary.
Many meetings are simply held out of tradition with no real thought given to the actual effectiveness of the meeting. Review meeting minutes and determine prior to the meeting if there is any new business or information that needs to be discussed. Often times results and minor discussions can be held in open forum via email or online communication. Get out of the mindset of meeting simply out of habit.
Meetings are most effective and productive when decisions need to be reached or results discussed at critical milestones throughout a project time-line. Simple status updates can be communicated at interim marks leading up to the meeting. If significant progress hasn’t occurred and there are no real discussions requiring attention, consider skipping the routine meeting and simply provide interim updates.
3. Take your meetings online.
The effectiveness of Go To Meeting and other online meeting software has made it much easier and more efficient for groups to get together. In lieu of traveling to a common meeting place consider organizing online meetings for as many routine events as possible. Not only does it save on time and expense it also provides an easy way to document meeting notes and discussions. The simplicity and reliability of computer software and hardware has made it much easier to coordinate meetings across multiple time zones and locations simply by placing everyone in the same “online” meeting place in the comfort of their office or home.
[http://encompass-management.com] | Kevin Aubrey is an accomplished entrepreneur leading one of his current companies to consecutive Inc. 5000 awards (2006 2007) for the fastest growing privately held companies in America. Having worked with (2) different Fortune 100 companies early in his career, and currently operating a half dozen small businesses, Kevin shares his business insight as a consultant, author, and speaker. Kevin’s blog can be found at [http://kevinaubreytoday.com].