If there’s one thing business owners and employees can agree on, it is a shared hatred for meetings. Meetings can easily seem to drag on forever, accomplish nothing and be a huge waste of time. Nevertheless, they can also be a great way for you to collaborate with your employees and/or co-workers. But, in a world where time is of the essence, some of us just don’t have the hours or the patience to put up with lengthy and frequent meetings.
Meetings can be a wonderful tool to suck time from your day, and especially if you and your team fail to accomplish what you set out to, they can lead to frustration and low morale. Not to mention, the lack of results often produced can mean that they are near impossible to get employees to attend. If your meetings often fail to meet the mark, employees will assume that their time is not needed, and will make an effort to avoid these dreaded events. This can obviously cause major issues on the odd occasion that the meetings are addressing urgent and pressing matters. The problem is that your company’s usual approach to meetings has left your employees and team members viewing these gatherings as utterly redundant.
Listed below are some tips on how to get the most out of your meetings:
- Keep them succinct
Go out of your way to keep your meetings as succinct as possible. It is extremely rare that you will spend the entirety of your 2-hour meeting, effectively using those 2 hours. Saying that you had a 2-hour meeting might make you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot – after all, it was time out of your day! – but if you’ve achieved far less than 2 hours’ worth of work, you may want to reconsider that smug feeling of achievement. Most of the content discussed in meetings can be covered in at least half the time, if not more, of the intended time slot. Save the teas and sandwich breaks and make a point to stick to the point. If anything urgent needs following up, use the extra time you’ve saved for your personal questions/clarifications. If you’re itching for a bite to eat, this is the time to get one. Take the relevant team member down with you and discuss your concerns over coffee – the meeting room should be strictly business!
- Know the client
As important as it is to keep your meetings as efficient and professional as possible, don’t hesitate to bend the rules if the circumstances require it. If the purpose of the meeting is more geared towards networking, than perhaps setting up a meeting in slightly more informal setting – such as over lunch – is more beneficial to the meetings objective than a stifling corporate environment. Gage the purpose of your meeting and outline what you are wanting said meeting to achieve, and allow those points to determine the circumstances in which the meeting is held.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of punctuality
Arriving to the meeting on time allows you to be in a much clearer headspace when the meeting starts. You’re more likely to take everything in, be more alert, calm, and responsive. Instead of rushing in, trying to catch your breath and centre yourself – whilst scrambling to catch up on the points you’ve missed for a good 5-10 minutes… on top of the time you’ve already wasted – try forcing yourself to arrive just a little bit early. If you make a habit of arriving to your meetings in frenzied and occupied frame of mind, force yourself to alter your mindset to one that is more receptive.
The best way for most of us to do this is to arrive on time! It gives you just that little bit of breathing room to clear your head and focus on what’s to come. For bigger meetings, it may be worth going on a walk or doing some light exercise to encourage this mindset. However, when you are pressed for time, simply showing up early can produce the same results. This mindfulness could be the difference between a good idea and a great one for your next meeting.
- Don’t underestimate your subordinates
It is all too easy for business owners and employees alike to feed into the office hierarchy. In doing so however, we often unintentionally (or intentionally) both silence and hinder the potential of our junior team members. It is often assumed that because they are less experienced, they have less to offer.
Although, anyone who makes the effort to engage their junior employees/colleagues quickly finds out that this is often not the case. They most likely have a better idea of the wants and needs of your clients as they tend to be more on par with them financially, culturally, etc. They also have an easier time staying up to date with current trends, and they tend to be much more willing to take risks in offering up ideas. Don’t squander their potential with your own assumptions – take a risk on them and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll be better off for it.
- Outline the meeting’s purpose
In as few words as possible, outline the meeting’s mission and stick to it. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that everyone is on the same page. Each person should be familiar with the meetings purpose and be able to articulate it themselves. This will allow you to assess whether or not the individuals in the meeting are all focused on the same issue. This will also allow you to get an idea of the information you need, what needs to be clarified etc. without wasting an entire meeting and being bombarded with follow up questions. Get it out of the way at the beginning, and ensure everyone is working towards the same goal.
- Prioritise your questions
Similar to being in a class or academic environment, it’s safe to say that all questions are valuable and welcomed by everyone involved. That is, with the exception of questions that won’t directly affect the entire team. If you can recognise that the question you are wanting to ask isn’t beneficial to the objective of the meeting and won’t impact those around you, make a note for yourself to follow them up in private. Prioritising your contributions to meetings will allow them to run more smoothly, quickly and stay on task.