Here are five fantastic tips for planning and facilitating more productive meetings from guest blog contributor Hadi Ossaily, founder of Meeting for Goals:
Meetings can be valuable opportunities to improve business processes, build relationships, and make decisions. However, many meetings are unproductive due to poor planning or lack of clear goals. Here are some tips to increase productivity in meetings:
1 Ensure the meeting has an objective
When you’re organizing a meeting, make sure it has an objective and outcomes. What does the meeting need to accomplish? Why are you holding it? What are the key things that will be discussed and decided upon at this gathering of minds?
How can we ensure that these objectives are met and that attendees leave with clear expectations for what will be done after the meeting is over?
You may want to consider including action items or follow-up tasks in your agenda or invitees list. These add a layer of accountability to your meeting structure by making sure everyone leaves with something they can do next!
2 Come prepared with a meeting agenda
Make sure that the meeting agenda is clear and concise. To ensure this, write it down in bullet-point format beforehand and share it with all attendees. This way, they’ll know what to expect from the meeting and can prepare accordingly.
- Review the agenda at the start of each meeting to make sure everyone knows where they stand, who will be involved in what aspect of the project and when their involvement is expected to end (e.g., “We’ll have our presentation ready by next week”).
- You do not need to create the meeting agenda from scratch every time. Use meeting agenda templates so that you save time. There are plenty of free templates you can use.
3 Make decisions together
A meeting without decisions is a waste of time. The purpose of a meeting is to make decisions and move on, so any time spent in the meeting without making progress towards that goal is wasted.
When you’re planning your meeting:
- Make sure everyone is on the same page at the end of the meeting by using an agenda to outline what topics will be covered, who will cover them and how much time each will take.
- Make sure you make a decision about each topic before moving on to another one in order to stay focused on what needs doing rather than what could happen or what was discussed last week.
4 Ask everyone to leave their egos at the door
One of the most important things to do when holding a meeting is to ask everyone to leave their egos at the door.
By “ego,” I mean the need for self-validation and receiving positive feedback from others. When people are in meetings, they tend to become defensive if their ideas or contributions are criticized or questioned.
This can cause team members to become more focused on protecting themselves than working as a cohesive unit. Ego will also get in your way when trying to communicate effectively with other people.
5 Take notes and share them
You can take notes during a meeting, which means you won’t have to write everything down after the fact. The other advantage of taking notes during a meeting is that it will help keep your mind on track.
If you’re worried that writing things down will make it difficult for others to contribute and share their ideas, don’t be! Just ask them to speak up if they want something written down.
Use software technology to help you with your meeting preparation and your minutes of meeting. Use a meeting management software to help prepare your agenda and automatically distribute the minutes of meeting at the end of the meeting.
No matter how small the meeting might be, it is always a good idea to share minutes of meetings with other members.
Minutes serve a variety of purposes and help keep you organized.
- They’re the written record of what happened in the meeting. This makes them useful for future reference, ensuring that everyone can remember exactly what was discussed without having to rely on their own notes or memories, which may have faded since the meeting took place.
- Minutes improve accountability, by making it easy to track who raised an issue or made a decision during a meeting. If something goes wrong later on, it’s often helpful to know who was responsible for that decision so that they can be held accountable if necessary (or thanked for getting things right).
- Minutes also help people prepare for future meetings—they give attendees some idea of what topics were discussed last time around (and whether these issues were resolved), which will allow them to think about how those issues might affect any upcoming meetings they are involved in or plan to attend.
Don’t let meetings run longer than necessary
- Don’t let meetings run too long.
- Keep meetings as short as possible, but don’t let them run so short that you don’t have time for effective collaboration and discussion.
These tips can help you make meetings more productive:
- Meetings should be productive. So, an agenda needs to be clear and the decisions should be made together.
- The meeting should have an objective that’s clearly defined in the beginning of the meeting, so everyone knows what they’re there for and what they’re expected to do at the end of it.
- Egos should be left at the door. If someone doesn’t like something that was said or done in a meeting, it’s best to address it after with that person directly rather than making a big deal out of it in front of people who weren’t involved or don’t know how things went down between you two previously (unless they were directly involved).
- Take notes and share them as soon as possible so you can correct any misunderstandings quickly before they grow into something bigger than necessary (like when I misheard someone say “I’m going on vacation” instead of “I’m going home” and thought my coworker was leaving us forever—when really he just needed some time off).
Now that you have read my tips on productive meetings, I hope you will be able to make your meetings more productive.
About the author:
Hadi Ossaily is the CEO of Meeting for Goals. MeetingForGoals.com helps teams eliminate useless meetings that do not advance the company goals. Our software helps you align meetings to company goals, to have a meeting agenda, allocate action and responsibility and save time. Never have a bad meeting again! Find out here how Meeting for Goals can make your meetings more productive.
For details on how to make meetings more productive, check out The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer.