Only one thing is worse than a long, drawn-out meeting: a long, drawn-out meeting with no structure. A great leader understands that it is easy for a meeting to slip into a pointless wasteland of opinions and trivial information. That’s why being proactive is vital. Keep meetings on time and on task to show others that you respect their time.
How? Here are five guidelines:
Be sure you need to have a meeting.
Can you have a quick gathering in the lunchroom with just those people involved for five minutes instead of a sit-down meeting? Can the issue be handled through an email? It is frustrating for anyone to attend a meeting that affects them in no way.
Start on time.
When a leader says “Let’s wait a few minutes for those who are running late,” it immediately signals disrespect to those who did manage to get to the meeting on time. This can easily encourage everyone to wander in when they can for the next meeting. Watch the clock and start your meeting on time to communicate respect for those who are there. You will also be informing those who are late what they can expect from meetings you run in the future.
Have a purpose that everyone knows.
Every meeting should have a clear objective. Complete this sentence: Add the end of this meeting I want the team to ______. In order to accomplish this, send a written agenda of the meeting and the objective along with the invite. Your team will be able to come prepared and conserve time. An agenda helps everyone stay focused on the objective. Everything that happens in the meeting then should further that objective.
Use time wisely.
Move the meeting along based on the agenda. Don’t let people run down rabbit trails. Instead, say, “Let’s discuss that at another time.” If someone is talking too much, ask other people for their opinions. Have someone take notes. Address one issue at a time. Keep your eye on the clock and enforce the meeting’s time limit. End on time. Many companies have back-to-back meetings, so if you go over your time limit, you are messing up someone else’s schedule. At the end of the meeting summarize decisions made and tasks assigned. Leave time for this critical step so that your team knows what steps to take next.
Using the notes taken, write a summary of the meeting and send it out to everyone. This summary will communicate that the meeting was productive. It will also help everyone to be on the same page as to what happens next. It will help those involved to have a sense of satisfaction about the meeting.
According to a survey of U.S. professionals by Salary.com, meetings ranked as the number one office productivity killer. Proactively fight this statistic by making sure your meetings stay on time and on task.