I used to be a senior manager in charge of five hundred people and with a multi-million dollar budget we used to hold meetings upon meetings and for the most part they are the biggest waste of time possible. Have you heard the saying, if you don’t want to do any work hold a business meeting… that’s often not far from the truth and some companies actually hold meetings about holding meetings.
Saying this meetings do have their place, you just have to make them useful and productive and you can if you follow these steps.
Have a Purpose
If you don’t have a singular purpose for a meeting, you shouldn’t have a meeting, you should be able to state in five to eight words exactly why you are planning a meeting. If you can’t, reconsider having a meeting.
Write an Agenda For your Business Meeting
Based on your purpose statement, write a meeting agenda and circulate it prior to the meeting so that everyone is prepared. Then micromanage the meeting in terms of who will speak, what they’ll speak about, and how long they have to do it.
Set a Time Limit
Meetings do not have to be long to be productive, in fact some companies have a standard 15 minute meeting rule and I even know of one accountants that have ten minute meetings. It’s used to simply report on what each person has done or needs to do to meet a goal, and to assign new work.
Ban Electronics in Business Meetings
In today’s day and age, that might seem a little strange. But the truth is, multitasking at meetings is very counter-productive. Tell those who are invited to the meeting not to bring phones or laptops or any electronics, this will make everything move smoother because no one will be distracted.
Make people responsible by directly assigning tasks to people who can either be responsible for the people doing the work, or do the tasks themselves. By having a person of responsibility, you can avoid passing of the buck and making everything your job. Delegation before, during and after meetings is essential to increase productivity.
Keep the Numbers Small
Only invite the people to the meeting that will have something to do, there is no point in having anyone at a meeting or part of a meeting if they aren’t going to leave with something to do. For instance, if you have a project manager, invite her, but there is no reason to invite the people she manages.
Start and End on Time
Set a start time and an end time, and stick to it. Start on time and don’t allow late people to show up late. If they’re late they simply miss the meeting, the reason is that late people, for whatever reason, will cause delays and interrupt the flow.
Give Each Person Input Time
Anyone attending the meeting should have been given an assignment of what to talk about at the meeting, and they should be given time to talk. Sometimes one or two people will take over a meeting and the others do not get a chance to give input. Make sure that each person gets an opportunity and that no one runs over time.
Assign Someone to Take Minutes
One person should be the official note taker, including writing down who is assigned what task. This person will within a few hours send everyone a copy of the meeting minutes, which will include a list of tasks and to whom they’re assigned.
After a meeting is over, it’s important to check up on anyone who was given tasks to do, but also to drop everyone who attended an email with the meeting minutes (as mentioned above) as well as an opportunity to edit the record if it is inaccurate. In this way you can ensure that everyone who attended is on the same page and that tasks are completed.
Business meetings are necessary for a business with more than one person (even if you only have contractors), to move forward and get things done. By having meetings that address a specific purpose, assigning responsibility to the right people and having frequent follow-ups, you’ll find that all your business meetings are more productive.