Gathering colleagues around a table — outside of holiday celebrations — can be a major challenge at this time of year. If you’re lucky enough to have people book their calendars for a meeting, make sure it’s a successful one.
What makes meetings succeed or fail? If you’ve fostered collaboration, advanced important projects, and deepened social ties — congratulations, you have a winning formula.
If you don’t typically feel this way after a meeting, check out these top 10 tips so you can make the most of out of future gatherings!
- Don’t wait for stragglers — start on time. Waiting for everyone to arrive not only wastes time. It also sends the message to those who were punctual that their time is not as valuable as those who are absent. If folks DO show up late, shift their talk-time to later in the meeting, and if necessary catch them up after the meeting about what was discussed.
- Set a predictable structure for re-occurring meetings. For recurring meetings, it’s generally more efficient if folks go in the same order each time. People then know when they are on deck. It also allows attendees to multi-task a little when someone’s speaking whose work has little relevancy to their own.
- Take notes… and distribute them afterwards. Reduce the burden of note-taking and the risk of miscommunication by designating a note-taker. Distribute the meeting notes afterwards to all attendees and call out any action items. This will also help avoid repetitive follow-up discussions and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
- Stay away from PowerPoint decks. Long decks tend to lengthen meetings. Instead use a simple, rough agenda and show charts, graphs, or pictures where needed.
- Keep your calendar invites short. Don’t just default to 30 or 60 minutes. If you can get a recurring meetings done in 20 minutes, then schedule it for 20 minutes or less. It will help you set expectations and increase the likelihood that you stick to the time you’ve allotted.
- Don’t get comfortable. Holding “uncomfortable” meetings leads to greater efficiency. Try meeting standing up or having the team walk around the block. Or go for an unfamiliar setting as a way to wake folks up – try sitting on the floor, or on the beanbag chairs or move the meeting to the cafeteria or the roof deck.
- Don’t get sidetracked. Topics with little relevancy to the discussion or those that need deeper discussion can eat up a lot of time. Lengthy topics should be taken offline.
- Cut one-on-one discussions. When a long discussion or debate between two individuals occurs, it not only lengthens the meeting but prompts other participants to tune out.
- Help “long talkers” help themselves. Everyone has attended meetings with someone whose speech is highly detailed and often not on-topic. Coach these “long talkers” privately to improve their skills in summarizing and presenting information.
- Keep your tech setup as simple as possible. Getting meeting technology to work is always more challenging than people anticipate. Keep it simple and encourage the leader to be sure the technology is set up well in advance of the meeting start time. You might also encourage remote attendees to log-in 5 mins before the meeting is due to start.
Now get back to your meeting ….
This post originally appeared on Zack’s blog.
Zack Sionakides is an operations and strategic business development executive who helps organizations drive growth and improve outcomes.