This why we step into the small conference room every Tuesday. Keeping these three things in mind is essential to streamlining your meetings and making them more effective. With that in mind, let's jump right into it:
Prepare a Comprehensive Agenda
The meeting agenda is one of the most important parts of keeping your meeting efficient and effective. A good meeting agenda allows your meeting to run more smoothly, ensures that everyone comes prepared for what needs to be discussed, and provides clear expectations for everyone in attendance. Be sure to include a comprehensive list of all discussion topics that need to be addressed, materials or resources that will be utilized, and ensure everyone knows who will be involved in the session.
Invite the Right People
Constantly evaluating your invitee list probably the best way to make sure your meeting (or series of meetings) is running as efficiently as possible. Whose input is needed for the topics you’ve got on your agenda? By eliminating extraneous attendees, you can cut down on wasted time and tangential discussions that can happen in your meeting room. In fact, more than 67% of executives believe their meetings fail to meet intended objectives. Limiting meeting to just those who are essential to the task at hand means that more employees are at their desks chipping away at their to-do lists. If the purpose of the meeting is to keep people informed, having one representative from each team is a great compromise. This way, everyone can stay in the loop and have a voice without unnecessarily sacrificing team productivity.
Opt for Video in Cases of Remote Attendance
You know who's coming. Now it's time to ensure that everyone involved is contributing and being held accountable. If everyone attending is essential to the process, you want them engaged and contributing as much as possible. This can be tough if not everyone is there in the room with you. It’s easy to tune out on a phone call. No one is watching, you have other things you could be working on, and nothing is stopping you from doing something else. Someone walks into your office, you mute the call, take care of the question, but you might have missed a crucial detail while you were away from the conversation. If it’s possible, always try to host long distance meetings or attendees via virtual meeting or video conference. Attendees are much less likely to engage in distractions like incoming emails and cell phone notifications if all the attendees can see each other.
Distribute Resources and Meeting Materials Ahead of Time
Meetings are typically held with the goal of getting feedback and contributions from others. In an ideal world, that's what would transpire. However, in many cases, you're listening to a presentation or looking at a document that you would be just fine digesting on your own. Make sure your team is actually using your meeting time for meeting. If you want constructive, well-thought-out feedback, people need to have time to process what they're looking at. Be sure your attendees have access to the material prior to the meeting so that you can discuss it together and make the most of your designated meeting time.
Keep Meeting Minutes
All right, you’re in the meeting room. Doing meeting things. Discussing, brainstorming, deciding. Things are going great.
Then Tom says, “Where did we land on [insert important discussion topic] last week?”
“I’m not sure. Do you remember, Eric?” says Brian.
“Not a clue. I know we talked about it though,” says Eric.
After furiously flipping through her notes, Julie pipes up, “We decided that [very important thing] would be sourced from [very important other thing].”
Julie has saved the team from wasting precious time by keeping meeting minutes from the previous week's session. Having a record of what’s happened in previous meetings is essential. It allows you to reference previous decisions, avoid discussing the same topics, and ensure that your meeting keeps moving. If multiple parties are involved in a meeting (agency and client, two partner organizations, etc.), you’ll want to make sure that at least one person from your organization is keeping tabs on and recording what’s happening in the meeting. If possible, have the same person record the meeting minutes each time so that the notes are consistent. Many teams find it helpful to send the meeting minutes to everyone on the team after the meeting has ended.
Recap the Meeting and Create an Action Item List
(Sometimes included in meeting minutes) this is perhaps one of the most frequently overlooked parts of meeting optimization. You’ve had a really productive meeting, come up with some brilliant ideas as a team, and have a good feeling about where the project is headed. As great as that is, it’s all useless if it never leaves the conference room. Be sure you wrap up all your meetings with a rundown of the major decisions that occurred and new tasks that need to be completed. You’ll want to make sure every entry on the list includes the task, who is responsible for completing and/or overseeing the task, when it needs to be completed by.
Use these simple tips and you’ll find that your meetings will be more efficient, effective, and engaging for everyone involved.
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