When something needs to be discussed we better call a meeting, right? Perhaps, perhaps not, but if you decide you do need a meeting, make sure it is efficient. We have all spent hours in meetings that were not more than a waste of time. Charles Alvarez, business coach at Cornerstone Advisory Services shares how to ensure efficient meetings.
7 Ways To Ensure Efficient Meetings
1. Is It Necessary?
Ask, “Is this meeting necessary?”Many meetings turn out in retrospect to be unnecessary. There are other ways to achieve the same goal. Sometimes you can achieve it by circulating a memo. You can have a conference call. You can speak to people individually. You can even postpone it to another meting or another time altogether. If a meeting is not necessary, avoid holding it whenever possible.
If the meeting is necessary, ask, “Is it necessary for me to attend this meeting?” If it is not necessary for you to attend, don’t go in the first place. If it is not necessary for someone else to attend a particular meeting, make sure that he knows so that he does not have to be there.
2. Write an Agenda
If you have determined that the meeting is necessary, establish a clear purpose for the meeting and write up an agenda.An excellent time management tool is for you to write a one paragraph statement of purpose for the meeting. Complete the sentence, “We are having this meeting to achieve this specific goal:” and then write out the objective of the meeting.
This is a tremendous discipline. Make out an agenda or a list of everything that has to be covered in the meeting. Next to each item, put the name of the person who is expected to address that particular issue. Distribute the agenda, if possible, at least 24 hours in advance so that each person knows what they will be expected to contribute. They will know what the objective of the meeting is and what will be discussed. This applies to one on one meetings with your boss, with your subordinates, with your customers, with your suppliers and whoever else.
3. Start and Stop on Time
Start and stop the meeting on time.Set a schedule for the beginning of the meeting, and set a time for the end of the meeting. If the meeting is going to run from eight until nine, start it at eight o’clock sharp and end it at nine o’clock sharp.
The worst type of meetings are the ones that start at a specific time but have no clearly determined ending time.
Here is another rule: don’t wait for the latecomer. Assume the latecomer is not coming at all, and start at the designated time. It is unfair to punish the people who are there on time by making them wait for the person who gets there late, if at all.
Many companies establish the policy of locking the meeting room from the inside at the exact time the meeting is scheduled to start. The people who show up late are not allowed in. You can be sure that they don’t show up late the next time.
4. Cover Important Items First
Cover the most important items first. When you draw up the agenda, apply the 80/20 Rule. Organize the agenda so that the top 20% of items are the first items to be discussed. This way, if you run out of time, you will have covered the items that represent 80% of the value of the meeting before the time runs out.
5. Summarize Each Conclusion
When you discuss each item, summarize the discussion and get closure. Get agreement and completion on each item before you go onto the next one. Restate what has been decided upon and agreed to with each item before you proceed.
6. Assign Specific Responsibility
If you have made a decision, assign responsibility for the specific actions agreed upon and set deadlines.Remember, discussion and agreement without an assignment of responsibility and a deadline for completion is merely a conversation. Be clear about who is going to do what and by when.
7. Keep Notes and Circulate Minutes
A key to assuring maximum effectiveness from meetings is to keep accurate notes and to circulate the minutes of the meeting within 24 hours whenever possible. The person with accurate minutes from a meeting that can be pulled out a week or a month later can resolve a lot of potential misunderstandings.
Agendas prepared in advance, followed by meeting minutes shortly afterwards, assure that everyone is clear about their agreed upon responsibilities and deadlines.
As I reflected over these 7 ways to assure efficient meetings I had a thought. So here’s a little bonus tip:
Who do you need to meet with that you are avoiding?
Clear up any guilt you have concerning procrastinating about meetings people need or want to have with you or vice versa. Don’t put it off!