We’ve all been stuck in on of those meetings at least once in our professional life and wondered how we ended up sitting in that room, in that awkward silence, surrounded by people you don’t really know or even understand why you are in the room.
This guide shares 10 useful best practices to improve your meetings in 2020 and honestly, you should start right now in January. If you do, let us get back together in December and review your pre and post-meeting productivity adjustment.
No more back to back meetings
You can’t be at two places at the same time so don’t assume that you can finish a meeting at 4 PM on one side of the building and start another meeting also at 4 PM at the other end of the building. Delays are one of the main reasons for lack of productivity and frustration in meetings and you can easily avoid this by changing 60-minute meetings into 50-minute ones, 30 minutes to 25, etc.
This extra time will allow you to move from one place to the other, go grab a bite, etc. But most importantly, these extra minutes will prevent you to be late for your next meeting.
Google Calendar has a feature that allows you to automatically apply this feature. Just go to Settings -> Event Settings -> Speedy Meetings -> Turn on.
Review the list of invitees
How many times have you been to meetings where you didn’t need to be? I know I’ve been to quite a few! There’s nothing like the feeling of, why was I invited to this?
So, if you’re organizing the meeting be attentive to who you’re inviting if they are required to attend. Also, please use the optional feature of your favorite calendar application. It makes the world of difference to mark someone as optional allowing them to use their better judgment.
If you were invited to meeting that you don’t know the purpose don’t hesitate to drop a message to the organizer to understand why you were invited. I’ve personally been invited to meetings “just in case” my input was necessary. Guess what… It wasn’t…
A good portion of a meeting is spent reviewing what is the topic of that meeting and why we’re all there. Most of the time this is because no documentation was sent beforehand or no time was devoted to understanding the reason why you’re all meeting.
Ensure that if you’re organizing the meeting you send all the necessary documents to all participants as well as if you’re an attendee you ask the organizer the same.
Sending meeting notes at the end of a meeting has key benefits.
- Ensures that everyone is aligned with what was discussed in the meeting
- Makes sure that everyone has a space to object to the reached conclusions or action points
- It can be later on used as a reference since we can’t really remember everything.
One to rule them all
Ensure that every meeting or each section of a meeting has an owner that will dictate the pace and guide the direction of the topics.
Not following this advice will create confusion and chaos in the meeting and once it gets sidetracked it will be extremely difficult to come back.
It’s not necessary to occupy the entire slot
No harm will be done if you manage to resolve everything in half the time that you’ve booked. If you finish early and everyone parts ways its even better because then you’ll have focused time just for yourself without needing to go running to another meeting.
Also, if you manage to decide everything either on a coffee before the meeting, or in the way of the meeting you should do two things:
- Cancel the meeting
- Review why you booked a meeting in the first place since this was something that could have been tackled quickly in a much friendlier environment.
Have your support material ready
Nothing is worse than arriving at a meeting and having to wait for the organizer or presenter to set up. No one cares how difficult if the room has a DisplayPort connection but you only have HDMI output on your laptop!
Go to the room five minutes in advance so you can set up without any hassle. If the rooms are always extremely busy schedule the meeting for other participants 5 minutes after the time you have the room booked.
Ensure to have actions
Why are we meeting if we don’t have any items to act upon after the meeting? Ensure that the topic gets acted upon, with clear stakeholders and completion dates, otherwise, why were we meeting again?
Don’t forget about the topic
More often than not, when you suffer from a severe case of meetingnitis you’ll have a really hard time to prepare for your busy schedule and devote the same amount of attention to each meeting.
I’m sure that you have that one meeting where you only think about that topic in said meeting. I’m sure you want to do better but you have so much on your plate that it’s really difficult.
Remember that like you, for other people your meeting might be the one where they only pay attention to the topic while there. Be sure to give some gentle nudges to prevent the topic from being forgotten.
You are Kronos! Master of all time!
Meetings are like a dance. You need to prepare in advance and understand what the pace is going to be and how much time you can spend on certain topics.
If the time has ended to discuss that subject you can follow one of these approaches:
- Continue to discuss the topic in detriment of another subject
- Move on to the next topic and if there’s still time at the end of the meeting come back to this issue
- Create a new meeting devoted to this topic.
Remember that you are in control, you are the captain and need to control the pace of the meeting. Don’t be afraid of using sentences like “we’re derailing from the topic” and “right! let’s get back on track”.
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