You know the feeling – you just finished 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. Unfortunately, sometimes it can feel like all of your time is spent in inefficient meetings. In a survey of 182 senior managers in a range of industries, Harvard Business Review found that 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work, 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient, 64% said meetings come at expense of deep thinking, and 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together. 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, for either the organizer or the attendees. Too often we wait until we’ve gathered to get into detail about the meeting’s subject matter. If you are the host of the meeting, sending an agenda out in advance allows all those involved to consider the topics to be discussed. If you are attending the meeting, taking time to review the agenda can help you organize your thoughts beforehand. Not only will this cut down on time spent at the beginning explaining the purpose of the meeting, but you will also find your meetings coming to deeper, more thoughtful and productive conclusions.
Finding time to schedule a meeting that works with everyone’s calendars can be a nightmare. It’s likely that you’ll 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 the 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.
Marathon meetings kill focus. Don’t set meetings for longer than needed, 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 the meeting will be starting and ending on time. This sets boundaries for those who come late and helps keep your meeting from getting derailed by tangents. You can always set another meeting if needed, but setting the expectation that your meetings end on time can help you avoid unnecessary time-sucks. Your time is valuable and should be respected, and your meeting attendee’s 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. Before setting a meeting, weigh the possibility of sending an email instead. Choosing an email over a meeting when applicable can save your business valuable time.
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