If you think that the majority of your meetings are a waste of time, you’re not the only one. In fact, 71 percent of managers surveyed by the Harvard Business Review said that meetings are unproductive. So, just under 3/4 of the people you sit around the conference table with for your Monday morning production meeting have absolutely no desire to be there.
What a way to start your week, right?
Meetings can often get frustrating—and quickly. People talk over one another, they have side conversations, they repeat what others have already said. And sometimes there's one person who seems to talk the entire time, only to steer the conversation off course. We’ve all experienced meetings like this, and yet for some reason, we often continue to have them, even when they're unproductive or unnecessary. But your meetings don't have to run that way.
Here are some tips for creating better meetings and maximizing their efficiency:
Create an Agenda
Creating a meeting agenda is a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page before the meeting starts. By outlining the topics that need to be discussed and the goal of the meeting overall, attendees can come to a meeting with a clear mind and better prepared—hopefully reducing your meeting time.
Keep Meetings Small
A meeting should only involve the people that are necessary to that meeting’s agenda. Having too many people or people not relevant to the project just opens the door for misguided opinions and further discussion that might be unnecessary. Everyone's time is valuable, so if they aren't necessary to the discussion, send them a recap later.
Identify a Leader/Facilitator
Have someone lead the meeting. It may be the person that created the agenda. But this person should take on the responsibility of keeping the meeting focused and productive. If the team is stuck on one topic for too long, the meeting leader (or facilitator) should be confident in saying that it’s time to move on.
Set a Timer
At DZ, we bought The Miracle Cube Timer to help keep us on track during meetings. (You can set this particular timer to 5, 15, 30 and 60 minutes.) Our meetings typically run about an hour, and we try to have four main topics that need to be discussed. So, we set the 15-minute timer for each topic and voila! We’re done in an hour and have covered everything that we needed to. For items we didn't get to touch on at all or topics that needed to discuss further, we have something called "The Parking Lot". It's the facilitator's responsibility to schedule another time to talk about these items or create tasks for a team member to follow up on so they aren't forgotten.
Leave With Action Items
Whenever you leave a meeting, do you sometimes feel like you just wasted an hour of your life? Try leaving with a to-do list. You might be surprised by how productive that hour felt. Even if the list consists of just a handful of things that you can cross off in the next half an hour, it's still productive to leave a meeting with solid action items to do as a result of your discussion.
Have the facilitator keep track of action items as they are being discussed. Before everyone breaks, assign action items to individuals. If a meeting doesn’t require action items, simply recap everything that was covered and thank everyone for their time. Be sure to have the facilitator send out meeting minutes to fill in those who weren't in the meeting. Hint: refer back to your meeting agenda. 😉
With these helpful tips, you'll be running meetings your whole team will finally get excited about! For more tips like these, visit our blog today!
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