I recently spent time facilitating a two-day Annual Planning session for a client. During the process, we begin the first day by reviewing our “Starts, Stops and Keeps.” One “Stop” that came up several times was to stop having too many ineffective meetings. This is an issue we have all experienced at one time or another, and there have been numerous books written on the subject. So why is it so difficult to run an effective meeting?
Effective Meeting Tips:
- Question whether or not you really need to hold the meeting.
- Allow sufficient time to schedule the meeting so the right individuals are available to attend.
- Only invite the individuals that really need to be there.
- If someone does not need to attend the entire meeting, give him or her the opportunity to exit at the appropriate time.
- Face to face meetings are valuable, but technology can bridge the gap in many cases and be more efficient when using web-based meetings that utilize videos and recordings.
- Ask attendees to come prepared by thinking about the agenda items beforehand, bringing data, or doing the necessary research to make the meeting productive.
- Set the ground rules up front, like turning off cell phones and eliminating other distractions or interruptions.
- Consider whether the meeting should be held off site.
- Publish an agenda and begin with the end in mind to determine what the meeting should accomplish.
- Start on time and stop on time, if not before. Do not just fill the time slot. Get the work done and move on.
- Do not speak unless you can add value to the conversation. But, do discuss, debate and agree to move the meeting along and ensure people are being heard.
- Do not let one individual dominate the meeting.
- Assign someone to take notes or minutes.
- Assign action items to individuals that state “Who, What and When” to move the work forward.
- Stick to the agenda and do not go down rabbit holes or off on tangents.
- Consider stand up meetings to encourage shorter meetings.
- Do not let the meeting turn into a gripe session or one based on negativity.
- Be respectful of others in the meeting.
- There are no bad ideas, but do be thoughtful before you speak and be on point.
- Pay attention and stay engaged.
- Try techniques like “Six Thinking Hats” to get everyone thinking in a parallel fashion, rather than debating every idea that is presented.
- Use appropriate visual aids to promote clarity around discussions. A picture can be worth a thousand words.
- It may be necessary for the meeting organizer to synthesize thoughts to gain clarity around a group of ideas.
- Send a report out at the end of the meeting to capture key take aways.
- Do a “plus minus exercise” before breaking to debrief on what improvements you can make at the next meeting.
- Distribute the minutes to the meeting participants after the meeting.
- Follow up on action items to ensure they are being completed.
I am sure I could keep adding to the list, but I think this is a good start. So ask yourself how effective your meetings were last year. Give some thought to the list above and try some of the ideas to improve your meeting effectiveness this year. Meetings can be enjoyable and productive if run properly. Please let me know what you have done to make your meetings run well.
Thank you and plan well. Alan
Additional Rhythm Systems Meeting Resources:
Consider using Rhythm Software to run your weekly meeting, where the status and agenda are automatically created every week to keep you on track!