Meetings are the linchpin of any successful business. They give you and your colleagues an opportunity to plan, strategize, set priorities, solve problems and brainstorm. But a poorly run meeting can be a major time-waster, and it can even create new problems and challenges, instead of solving old ones.
So if you’re the one running the meeting, you’re going to want to plan accordingly. Any meeting you conduct is a direct reflection of you. Ask yourself: What kind of image am I projecting: Calm, efficient and professional? Or scattered, unproductive and ineffective? Here are some tips to give your office meetings the pulse they need to make everyone’s time worthwhile.
First: Is the Meeting Absolutely Necessary?
There are never enough hours in a day. Everyone is swamped with work, so there had better be a good reason to pull your employees away from their desks. Huge amounts of time are wasted because executives think face-time is always essential, or they’ve been accustomed to a particular routine in calling that daily or weekly meeting. Ask yourself: Could a well-written email achieve the same goals as a meeting just as well (or better)? Get into the habit of discerning whether there are less taxing ways to impart and receive information at the office than gathering everyone in one place. Your employees will thank you for it.
If you deem the meeting to be necessary, create a clear and specific agenda ahead of time so everyone knows how to best prepare. The more specific you are, the more professional you look. Decide what your goals are, along with the related matters you want to cover. Be sure to give your employees enough time to prepare their contributions for the meeting as well. Before the meeting, allot a specified amount of time for each subject you want to go over, and stick to it.
Keep the Guest List Short
Only invite employees who have a reason to be at the meeting. It’s a common mistake to have people attend, even if they have little or no stake in the outcome, often as a courtesy or out of habit. When a meeting has no impact on an employee, she will have little or nothing to offer. So restrict the guest list to employees whose presence will generate results.
Start the meeting on time, end the meeting on time. Period. No exceptions. Meetings, especially daily or weekly meetings, should never run over the time allotted, for the sake of everybody’s productivity as well as sanity. Typically, a meeting should run about 30 to 40 minutes, or an hour tops. Short, structured meetings get the job done. Anything longer, and attention begins to wane. It also doesn’t hurt to let everyone go a little bit early sometimes. They’ll appreciate the extra consideration given them to either finish what they’ve been working on, or get home a little early. You want your meeting to be regarded as productive and painless, and that will help garner enthusiasm the next time you need to schedule one.
Make it a Group Effort
Encourage everyone to contribute. One or two dominant personalities can easily usurp an entire meeting, regardless of what they bring (or don’t bring) to the table. Ask everyone at the meeting for his or her input, opinions and feedback. Know when to lead and when to participate. Oversee the discussion so that even the quietest employees speak up, and make sure everyone gets a chance to be heard. Also let all team members have their chance in the spotlight, and mind your listening skills. When everyone is involved, attention spans have a tendency to stay on point for quite a bit longer.
Get it Out
If the goal of the meeting is to solve a problem, it’s imperative that you allow some conflicting opinions, or even a healthy, constructive argument to take place. A good leader will mediate well and step in should emotions get too high to keep the meeting on track. But don’t always take the path of least conflict, because nothing will get solved in the long run.
Nobody wants to meet in a dingy, cramped space without the proper resources. Rather, people should feel comfortable, welcome and prepared when they walk into the room. Executive Suites at the Hippodrome offers fully furnished, state-of-the-art conference rooms with all the audio-visual components you need to make your meeting a success, including plasma screen TVs, overhead projectors, white boards, LCD projectors, videoconferencing equipment. It really does make all the difference.
Most importantly, have fun! Meetings have a reputation for being dry and boring, Adding a little color to the room, whether it be some snacks and beverages or a little gift everyone can take home can create a positive, upbeat vibe and set the tone for the entire meeting. As the leader of the meeting, you set the tone. Starting off on the right foot with the right attitude can make all the difference in the world. Encouraging employees and instilling a sense of enthusiasm is sure to yield the best results.