Too many people associate meetings with wasted time. That’s an understandable reaction given how many people find their day full of meetings while wishing they had more time to get their real work done.
Unfortunately, the need for meetings grows along with the size of the team and the company itself. So, how do you make your meetings more productive? Here are 5 hacks for running effective team meetings, whether you’re having daily check-ins or company-wide meetings.
Set a timer
The best meetings are short, focused, and have a strict time limit. Most meetings don’t need to take more than 30 minutes. You can enforce this by using a digital timer with a countdown.
Let everyone deliver their reports and hash out problems in that first 30 minutes. They can socialise afterward without wasting everyone else’s time. Start meetings on time, and end them with a collection of action items and assignment of the tasks to be done.
Don’t involve everybody all the time
One of the worst things you can do is have people assist meetings that are completely irrelevant to them. Less is more when it comes to meetings, so make sure that you a look at everyone present, and see if they serve a purpose.
Jeff Bezos won’t even attend or call a meeting unless two pizzas could feed the entire group. While you don’t have to go by this rule, this shows that big meetings are usually counterproductive, so keep the audience as small as possible.
Always have an agenda
Always have an agenda for the meeting, and send it to participants before the meeting. This serves two main purposes. The first is to allow people to know what the topic is so they can come prepared. The second is that it allows people to decide whether or not the topic is relevant to them or invite others who should provide input.
Better yet, tell everyone if the goal of the meeting is to keep everyone informed, come up with new ideas, or make a decision. Then you don’t waste a manager’s time listening to status reports.
You can take things one step further by having a 5 bullet-point agenda. This keeps the meeting focused, and it prevents the meeting from running on too long. Additional items can be handled at a separate meeting.
Have a purpose for every meeting
It doesn’t matter if the meeting is held for weekly check-ins with staff so you can deal with any issues they’re dealing with, or you have quarterly reviews of your state of operations. Keep them regular and frequent and always dedicated to a particular goal. This is where agendas help define the meeting’s purpose. If you don’t know why you’re meeting, cancel it. End meetings that have outlived their usefulness.
Only use meetings to make decisions
Ideally, you want to use meetings to make decisions. Use digital bulletin boards and project management software to keep everyone informed about the state of affairs instead of making everyone listen to status reports. Then invite the right people to the meeting so that the decision can be implemented, no matter what it is.
Have a way to park side conversations
Many meetings are derailed by side conversations that take up everyone’s time. Instead, find a way to record good ideas and return to the main subject. You can discuss these side topics in a different meeting if required or simply share the ideas with management.
You could significantly improve the productivity of your team by optimizing your meetings. Follow our advice to keep meetings on task and eliminate the time-wasters.