I ran into an old friend at a recent networking event who has worked at an office for many years. Probably his biggest complaint about the business world is the constant meetings. How often do we hear about meetings where nothing is accomplished and everyone feels like they wasted their time? It’s become an office cliché. There’s even a website called meetordie where you can determine just how much money a business wastes on an unproductive meeting.
But, believe it or not, meetings were originally intended to serve a purpose. And, whether we like it or not, meetings are a necessary evil for just about any business to get work done.
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t improve on the concept of meetings and make them valuable to you and your attendees. Follow these four steps to make your meetings more meaningful:
1. The fewer the better. Getting everyone’s input can be valuable, but when time is of the essence it just isn’t worth it to invite that guy who works in the mail room. Keep attendance limited to just the people who are directly involved in the meeting’s objectives. Before sending out the meeting memo, ask yourself if all the people cc’ed are in roles that directly affect the objective of the meeting.
2. Schedule an agenda and notify the attendees. Without an agenda, a meeting is just a gathering of egos that will inevitably lead the meeting astray from its crucial objectives. Before you even say the word “meeting” you need to have an agenda in mind. What will the meeting accomplish and how will it do so? Include this information on the meeting invite so everyone is already on the same page when they step in the conference room (or dial in to the conference call).
3. Respect the time of meeting attendees. If you have a staff of talented people, you might be tempted to go off topic and hear more of their ideas. But you must keep the meeting as short as possible while still achieving its objectives. Good ideas that are off topic have their time and place. Have a meeting schedule in mind, and if a meeting is going to run late schedule a follow up meeting if necessary.
4. Share in accomplishments. No one should walk away from a meeting feeling like they wasted their time. Make sure that you take a moment at the end of a meeting to recap on what the meeting accomplished and how everyone was instrumental in making the meeting successful. This will improve how people feel about your meetings in general and they will be more willing to ensure their success in the future.
Have you ever participated in an unproductive meeting? How much money do you think was wasted by the company from the lost time? What strategies do you employ to make your meetings meaningful? Share your tips with us.