Get more from your meetings

You’re spending so much time in meetings! So why aren’t you getting results from them?

If you frequently leave meetings thinking ‘that was a waste of time’ you need to take a fresh approach. Here are some tips for making your meetings matter.

Scrap the pointless meetings

Just because you were invited to a meeting, that doesn’t mean you have to attend. Make a point of only going to meetings that get results. This means meetings which have an agenda and a clear aim. Be sure you have a specific role to play – for example, signing off on decisions or providing data. If not, politely decline the invitation.

Think ahead

It’s frustrating when meeting participants don’t know why they’re there or what the issues are. Avoid adding to the problem by doing our homework. Read through the paperwork beforehand. Think about the issues you need to talk through. Ask questions and clarify issues. Draw attention to potential pitfalls before the meeting so people come to the meeting with solutions.

If you’re the meeting organiser, make it easy for people to prepare. Circulate an agenda that’s more than a list of headings. Make sure everyone knows the meeting objectives. Provide relevant background information and allocate timings for each item.

Establish – and stick to – norms

Meetings get out of control when participants’ expectations about appropriate behaviour differ.  Overcome this problem by setting meeting norms and guidelines. One guideline might be that the meeting starts on time no matter who is late. Other expectations could include keeping to the timetable and the agenda. You might want to specify that everyone participates, or set limits on how long one person can speak.  Clear expectations keep people focussed and reinforce positive behaviour.

Agree actions and evaluate outcomes

Ideally, you’ll come away from the meeting knowing what’s been agreed and who’s doing what. To do this, you’ll probably need someone chairing the meeting and summarising decisions. Someone else should take notes of the decisions and action points. The note taker should circulate the written record soon after the meeting.

Having an accurate record is one thing. You also need to follow up. Make sure that what you’ve agreed to do has actually happened. Assess the outcomes of your decisions. Make time as a group for evaluating your success.

Book one of our meeting skills trainers to run a session for your team. Contact us now.

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