Productivity. It’s a core goal for any organisation, from the macro – your business’s overall bottom line – to the micro – individual events and operations withinyour business. One such operation is your organisation’s meetings.
Most of us have experienced the irritation or tedium of unproductive meetings at once time or another. Sitting through what feels like irrelevant presentation after irrelevant presentation. Tapping our fingers at the annoyance that this meeting has come too early – or too late. Knowing that we aren’t reallyneeded, and would be better placed working on something else.
Here, then, are our golden rules for running truly productive meetings.
Short and sweet
Perhaps the most oft-cited characteristic of product meetings is concision. Most meetings are far longer than they need to be – and productivity, at core, is about making the most of the time you have. Book your meetings in for slightly shorter time slots than normal, and you will probably find that you gain the same outputs in less time. It’s an instant productivity boost – and improves morale at the same time.
Small and sweet
The larger your meetings, the more likely you are to get side-tracked by irrelevant discussions, find individuals taking up more than their fair share of airtime, or conversely, preventing some attendees from contributing at all. Keep your attendee list to a bare minimum, always. The smaller the meeting, the more each individual contributes – and the more thoughtful you are forced to be about how is reallyrequired. Only truly vital attendees should be at any meeting.
Tight time management
On a related point to keeping your meetings no longer than necessary – try not to allow them to overrun. A culture of overrunning makes it far more difficult to keep everyone on task withinthe meeting – and it makes it more likely that you will end up with irrelevant things to follow up on after the meeting. Dividing meetings up into highly focused time slots, made clear from the outset, helps attendees to recognise from the outset how much attention should be placed on different agenda points.
Embrace videoconferencing and collaboration technologies
It has never been easier for remote attendees to participate in meetings meaningfully. High-quality videoconferencing and shared document technologies mean that there is no reason to not be able to run an effective meeting with participants from all over the world. In turn, this means there is no need to delay an important meeting, or fail to involve a key stakeholder because of where in the world they are located.
An old principle but a vital one – what happens afterthe meeting? Truly productive meetings lead to tangible actions – and those actions need to be carried out. As such, you need a clear mechanism for gathering, agreeing and disseminating the next steps – and then evaluating when they have been carried out.
Manage the frequency
Think, too, about how often you hold repeated meetings. It is important to strike a balance between holding them frequently enough that momentum is maintained, and not so frequently that attendees stop contributing meaningfully, or become frustrated. As with so many aspects of corporate meetings, less is usually more.