Effective meetings are essential for any business or organization. They can help improve communication, collaboration, and decision-making. However, many meetings are unproductive and a waste of time.
In our article “5 Tips that Will Help You Optimize Your Time,” one of the points we talked about was how to plan and execute effective meetings, and we felt it was necessary to elaborate on this topic.
Among the greatest desires of managers is to have meetings where they can discuss the problems or plans of the organization, but these meetings shouldn’t end up taking up our whole agenda.
Having quick, effective meetings is not an impossible dream; you just need to follow the tips we will give you in this article.
Our 9 tips to hold an effective meeting:
- Be clear about the purpose of the meeting: What do you want to achieve? What decisions need to be made? Once you know the goals of the meeting, you can invite the right people and develop an agenda that will help you achieve your objectives. It is highly advisable not to include more than one item per meeting to focus all efforts on one topic before moving on to another. If we make an agenda with several points, we will end up tired and overloaded.
- Invite the right people: It is not necessary to invite everyone to every meeting. Invite only the people essential to the discussion. This will help keep the meeting productive and focused. To achieve this, we must clearly define the purpose of the meeting, know who are the people who have the information that will be needed at the meeting, and who must take action from what is said. Aiming to have only the right people in the meeting does not mean not inviting someone who should be involved.
- Send out the agenda in advance: This will give everyone time to prepare and come to the meeting with their ideas and thoughts. The agenda should include the purpose of the meeting, the topics to be discussed, and the time allotted for each topic. If possible, ask each person to bring the information you deem necessary. Either in charts, graphs, or presentations, so that the information can be presented in a summarized but complete manner
- Start and finish on time: This shows respect for everyone’s time. If you start late, people will start to lose focus. If you finish late, people will start to get restless. Respecting your own time and the time of others contributes to the effectiveness of the meeting. Do not allow people to join the meeting late, because you will be tempted to bring that person up to date on what has been said about the topic, which will delay your departure time and become a waste of time for those who arrived early.
- Stay on track: It’s easy for meetings to get off-topic. If you notice the meeting is getting off-topic, bring the conversation back to the agenda. Inevitably, during discussions, side issues may arise that may seem appropriate to review, but these can cause us to miss our objectives at the end of the meeting. Do not hesitate to cut the talk short at any time if you notice that you have lost your way and need to bring everyone back to the initial topic. If necessary, plan another meeting with the items that may have been discussed at this one, but are not on the agenda.
- Encourage participation: Keep in mind that everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to the discussion. If someone is silent, ask them what they think. Encourage everyone to express their points of view, if possible, imagine possible scenarios, and prepare questions that will make everyone contribute to the achievement of the meeting’s objective.
- Take notes: This will help you remember what was discussed and follow up on actions. Have someone take the minutes of the meeting. Make sure the minutes include the agreements reached, the people responsible for implementing the actions, and the time commitments for carrying them out.
- Summarize the meeting and the next steps: At the end of the meeting, summarize the key points that were discussed and identify the next steps, using the meeting minutes mentioned in the previous point. This will ensure that everyone is in agreement and that the meeting is productive and everyone is aware of their commitments and deadlines.
- Follow-up: After the meeting, send a follow-up e-mail with key points that were discussed and action items, including the meeting minutes so that everyone is aware of the agreements and commitments made. This will help to stay on track and ensure that decisions made at the meeting are implemented.
We know keeping meetings short and effective is no easy task, but we hope these tips can help you better organize your meetings to achieve your company’s goals. Stay tuned for more articles regarding management and productivity!