I was inspired to think about meetings more deeply when listening to a Bottom Line radio programme about meetings. We all attend and hold a lot of meetings so perhaps a refresher about how to hold successful and efficient meetings is worth considering.
Based on the radio programme and some work from Brother (the office machinery company) I came up with ten points for meaningful meetings:
Have a clear agenda and purpose. What do you want to achieve in this meeting? What decisions need to be made? What information needs to be shared? Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can structure your meeting accordingly and make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Invite only the people who need to be there. Don't waste people's time by inviting them to a meeting if they don't have anything to contribute. Only invite the people who are essential to the discussion and make sure they understand why they are there.
Start and end on time. People's time is valuable, so respect it by starting and ending your meetings on time. If you find that you're running late, send out an apology and let everyone know that you're going to have to cut the meeting short.
Stay on topic. It's easy to get sidetracked in meetings, but it's important to stay on topic so that you can make progress. If someone starts to veer off topic, politely bring them back to the discussion.
Encourage participation. Not everyone is comfortable speaking up in meetings, so create an environment where people feel safe to share their ideas. Ask questions, encourage discussion, and be respectful of everyone's opinions.
Make decisions. The point of a meeting is to make decisions, so don't be afraid to do so. If you're not sure what to do, gather feedback from the group and make a decision based on consensus.
Follow up. After the meeting, send out a summary of the decisions that were made and the action items that need to be completed. This will help to keep everyone on track and ensure that the meeting was productive.
Use technology wisely. Technology can be a great tool for meetings, but it can also be a distraction. Use technology to your advantage, but don't let it get in the way of face-to-face interaction.
Be flexible. Things don't always go according to plan, so be flexible and willing to adjust your agenda or meeting format as needed.
Evaluate your meetings. After the meeting, take some time to evaluate how it went. What went well? What could be improved? Use this feedback to make your next meeting even better.
By following these mandates, you can ensure that your meetings are productive, efficient, and worthwhile.