How to make meetings more effectiveChen Wan Lim
It’s common to hear complaints that meetings are a waste of time, takes too long, doesn’t get the desired outcome and generally, not effective. Non-productive meetings are exhausting, draining and can be demotivating. On the other hand, effective meetings will make attendees excited, create a sense of accomplishment and can yield positive results. Regardless if it’s a classroom meeting or a sales department meeting, here are some tips on how to make meetings more effective:
Tip 1: Set the meeting agenda
Define the purpose of the meeting precisely by itemising all the key issues to be discussed. If the meeting is about sales performance, then itemise each issue that only relates to sales performance. Refrain from discussing issues which are not related – perhaps having a separate meeting for that would be ideal. The purpose of having a fixed agenda is to avoid having unrelated discussions during the meeting.
Tip 2: Get the right people
After setting the agenda, always be sure that all the right people attend the meeting. Avoid sending out invitations to people who are not part of the discussion. Having unrelated people attend the meeting could steer the discussion outside the agenda and is a potential waste of time.
Tip 3: Pre-meeting preparation
Before the meeting, prepare a list of things to be discussed and send it to the related participants. That way, they will have sufficient time to prepare points to be discussed, materials to be handed out and to also get into the right mind frame before the meeting.
Tip 4:Schedule and fix time for the meeting
If the meeting is expected to take an hour (this can be estimated from the meeting agenda), then schedule it for just an hour. Avoid scheduling an open ended meeting as more often than not, meetings tend to drag longer than it was originally intended.
Tip 5: Allow for everyone to speak
To conduct an effective meeting, appoint a coordinator who is in charge of chairing the meeting. Key responsibilities of the chairperson is to allow for each agenda to be discussed until a conclusion is arrived at, to ensure that all participants are given a fair opportunity to speak his/her mind, to ensure that the discussion is kept on track and that the time allocated is sufficient.
Tip 6: Have closure for every agenda
Try to come to a conclusion for every item that is discussed during the meeting. In other words, do not leave anything hanging halfway and have closure for everything. Although sometimes there is insufficient time or information to arrive at a conclusion, be sure to carry the issue forward to the next meeting to have it solved.
Tip 7: Note taking
While it is often not necessary for meetings to have a secretary present, it is best to have someone write down notes, especially important points involving numbers, money and key people in charge of certain projects. There are two reasons why note taking is important. The first is to ensure that everything said, proposed and agreed verbally is put into writing. The second is for future references in an event there is a misunderstanding or a dispute regarding what was discussed in the meeting. An effective way is to have the notes circulated to everyone present at the meeting within 24 hours after the meeting.