If you gathered your team together and asked them “hands up who thinks meetings are fun or that we should have more of them?” it’s likely you’ll be met with a stony silence or roar of laughter. Most of today’s office professionals not only dislike meetings, generally, many of them think the meetings they do attend are a waste of time.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing to make this year the year your company runs more effective and engaging meetings? Meetings that employees actually want to attend, that are actually productive and a great use of valuable time. Here are a few pointers to set you off on the right foot to ensuring your meetings improve this year;.
- Provide a time framework
At the outset, frame the meeting in terms of time. State the start time and finish time of the meeting. By actually saying “It’s ten o’clock now and we will finish up this meeting by eleven” you are setting the scene and managing the expectations of attendees, as well as indicating to participants that you want to keep things short and succinct. If you have something booked in directly after the meeting, mention that as well so that the time is ‘carved in stone’ and the meeting simply can’t just run overtime.
- Allow attendees to leave the meeting early.
If the meeting is set to be a long one with many attendees, the chances are some attendees don’t need to stay for the entirety of the meeting. Structure the agenda so all the important items are discussed/ presented first and details that not everyone needs to be involved in can be left for later in the meeting. Furthermore, actively give people permission to leave at a particular time, once the first few items on the agenda have been discussed. This allows people to quietly leave the meeting with their manager’s approval, when it starts to become irrelevant for them. If you have a company where meetings tend to be long-winded events leaving attendees feeling that they got most of what they needed early on in the meeting and the rest was just a waste of their precious time, then this shift in the way you run meetings will ease anxiety and resentments and keep people productive. Often people feel rude if they leave a meeting early or feel the need to have a valid excuse to leave early, but by changing the dynamic of meetings to allow people to get up and leave as they see fit, will make a huge difference to productivity.
- Keep the meeting on track with language and body language.
There’s nothing worse that people droning on and on in meetings. Encourage your team to keep to the point and stay relevant, It’s often useful to use statements that summarise what they are saying or to ask a question to bring them back to the main points. Find an opportunity to politely interrupt and sum up the main points of their arguments, encouraging others to move the discussion on; ‘So Sam, you have raised an excellent point here. We do need to find a way to ensure our customers know about the upcoming event. Does anyone have any good suggestions?’”. You can also use body language to encourage people to wind up what they are saying. Without making someone feel unheard, sometimes something as simple as glancing at your watch, can indicate that it’s time to wrap up what the speaker is saying.
- Give everyone a turn to speak.
OK so this won’t be applicable for every meeting, but in your mission to keep meetings short and sweet and on-point it’s important not to forget that meetings are a great opportunity to allow people to feel heard. By giving everyone the opportunity to state their opinion, briefly, without the fear of being interrupted, they are more likely to be engaged from the onset of the meeting. It also encourages them to think fast and say less.
Getting into good habits when it comes to planning and running meetings will make a world of difference to your company; to motivation and productivity. Why not make improving your company’s meeting culture one of your goals for the year. I’m here to help. Could your leadership team benefit from one of my tailored workshops? Please get in touch today. I’d love to help!