You know the feeling. You walk out of an hour-long meeting shaking your head and thinking to yourself “this should have been an email.” A chunk of your day is gone forever, and as a business owner there are few things more valuable than your time. In fact, Salary.com ranked meetings as the number one office productivity killer. Luckily, there are ways to prevent meetings like this. Check out these tips for ways to get your meetings on track.
- Send out an agenda beforehand
Your meeting prep shouldn’t start when you walk into the conference room. This goes for not only the organizer but the attendees as well. Too often we wait until we’ve gathered to get into detail about the meeting’s subject matter. Sending an agenda out in advance allows all those involved to consider the topics to be discussed. Not only will this cut down on time at the beginning of the meeting explaining to the attendees what you’ll be discussing, you’ll probably find your meetings coming to deeper, more thoughtful conclusions.
- Take notes
Scheduling key players can be a nightmare. It’s likely that you’ll often find yourself missing at least one person from your meeting. Even if everyone is present, it’s good practice to designate someone to take notes at every meeting. At the end of every meeting, have them send a summary of what was covered to all those involved. Keeping notes is a good way to make sure you’re not reworking a problem you’ve already found a solution to. Additionally, it makes it much easier to fill in those who were unable to attend.
- Be timely
Marathon meetings kill focus. Don’t set meetings for longer than an hour and avoid going over your allotted time. That means starting your meetings on time and ending them on time, too. Set the expectation with your team that there will be no waiting an extra five minutes for stragglers or going over because of a tangent you weren’t expecting. Your time is valuable and should be respected. Their time is equally important. Showing people that you respect and value their time will get you far.
- Leave time for Q&A
Oftentimes question and answer sessions are slated for any time left over at the end of the meeting. If there are several questions this can result in your meeting running longer than scheduled. Set aside time specifically for questions to keep your meeting on track.
- Don’t just have a meeting to have a meeting
Sometimes a meeting is the way to go, but don’t rely on a meeting as a knee-jerk reaction. In today’s digital world, you can often communicate effectively without a face-to-face meeting. Can’t decide if an email will suffice? Check out this decision tree from the Harvard Business Review to help you decide if a meeting is the way to go.