The point of a meeting is to reach conclusions, discuss solutions and achieve set goals. Unfortunately, too many of many meetings misses the whole point.
Often, you leave the meeting feeling your time was completely wasted, too many what-could’ve-been-productive minutes are lost. The point of a meeting is to reach conclusions, discuss solutions and achieve set goals. Unfortunately, too many of your meetings end in: ‘Okay, let’s brainstorm next time and we’ll take it from there.’ Sure, that’s all fine and dandy… except for the fact that every follow-up meeting ends the exact same way. Or worse - everyone leaves the room more confused than before.
If you’ve caught yourself checking your phone at any point during the meeting (unless you’re the assi.gned time keeper), it’s Big Red Flag 1 that this come together is needless – otherwise you’d be interested and listening. That’s usually when the conversation goes off topic; not having an agenda will do that.
Have a strict agenda
Which brings us to Big Red Flag 2: Not having an agenda. There has to be a list of items that need to be discussed and decided upon, and as the meeting progresses these items should be ticked off as each decision has been met. This way, even if you do digress, the list holder (commonly referred to as the chairperson) will jolt the proceedings back on track.
So how do you ensure that you don't end up in an impractical, useless, unnecessary and time wasting situation? Preparation is key.
Avoid the waffle
Don’t let the technical, technological, and logistical aspects take up any time. Need a projector? Set it up before the meeting starts. Need a cable? Locate one before the meeting starts. Need to distribute papers? Make sure they’re at each person’s desk before the meeting starts. Need to show a demonstration? Practice every step BEFORE the meeting starts.
You shouldn't be spending 7 minutes plugging things in while your attendees are waiting. Not only is it unprofessional but it's really annoying too.
Be clear on what’s next
Before ending the meeting, make sure that each person knows what their next move should be. Set a date for the next meeting in the series and ensure that everyone’s aware what their role or contribution will be next time.
Avoid open ended statements with vague instructions and suggestive directives. Put each person’s responsibilities in writing, and hold them accountable. At the end of this meeting, you should already have an idea of how the next meeting will go.
Bonus Tip: Always have one person recording the meeting’s procession. Having a record of every interaction may seem like a waste of time, but it is effective and has great long term benefits.