Guide on How to Keep Your Meetings Productive – Management Tips
Meetings are an invaluable and inescapable part of any business. Whether for the purpose of creating a project, discussing marketing strategy with clients, or goal-setting company investments, a well set-out meeting provides a vantage point for group-thought and clear, concise progress evaluation.
However, without proper forethought, facilitating and preset protocols, meetings can go terribly wrong. In this sense, the general rule-of-thumb is to only schedule meetings when they are essential, while if you do so and follow our ten great management tips, productivity and success are guaranteed. Here is a guide on how to keep your meetings productive, valuable insight for any tier of management.
10 Management Tips to Keep Your Meetings Productive:
1. Setting a clear agenda
A meeting is nothing without a clear set of objectives. Make sure that you have assigned your meeting a clear agenda and if possible, stipulate a breakdown of what you wish to achieve. Never scatter your focus. Make certain that your meeting is set for a single purpose and don’t deviate. A great way to break down your agenda is to give the meeting a title, a timeframe, a set process, a finite singular purpose and an outcome which you wish to achieve. Determine this out in advance.
2. Keep Your Meetings as Short as Possible
The recommended length for each meeting is fifteen minutes, with up to fifteen additional minutes being allocated for Q&A. If your meeting is simply to gather data or delegate tasks, then stick to the bare minimum of fifteen minutes. If you are collaborating and have set out an interactive meeting with a question and answer session, be sure to devise a set of questions to be passed out as a memo before the meeting begins. Longer meetings are of course sometimes required. Just make sure that you assign a reasonable length of time, nothing more than is essential.
3. Establish a Timeframe and Stick to It
No matter whether an employee or team-member arrive late, don’t deviate from your timeframe. Even if you don’t hit even item on your agenda, be sure to call your meeting to a close at the time specified. This sends a clear message of respect to everyone involved, which in turn translates to an unwavering focus at every meeting, from everyone.
4. Apply the ‘Two-Pizza’ Rule to Attendees
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has a great solution to determining how many people to invite to any given meeting. Research proves that the fewer people present at a meeting, the more productive it will be. Jeff suggests that you never have a meeting with more people than two large pizzas can feed.
5. Appoint a Directly Responsible Individual to Every Task
Take a tip from the late Steve Jobs and end your meeting by assigning each task a directly responsible individual. Without doing so, many details are known to go awry with no clear form of accountability being possible. Give yourself and your team the peace of mind of knowing that each aspect of the project is assigned to an individual member. This makes an overview of progress much easier as well.
6. Structure Your Speaking Order
Whether you are holding Q&A at the end of a meeting or sharing ideas around a central topic, be sure that you stipulate a speaking order. Doing so will ensure that there is no confusion during your meeting, allowing each attendee to formulate their thoughts clearly and calmly before speaking. Always do your best to eliminate pressure.
7. Assign Each Meeting a Facilitator & Note-Taker
To keep your meeting productive in all aspects, while making every meeting easy to reference at a later stage of your project, place a facilitator in charge to lead the meeting, and assign someone the task of taking notes. Don’t give the facilitator the responsibility of keeping a record, as this will likely disrupt their focus by leaving them preoccupied with trivialities.
8. Allocate the Technology to the Facilitator & Note-Taker
Limit the use of technology to only the facilitator of the meeting, using multimedia and presentation devices to draw attention to the agenda, and to the note-taker, who will record the meeting. Record in voice or video if possible, while taking additional notes and jotting down the minutes of the meeting. Allow no other cellphones, laptops or technology not essential to the meeting. All attendees will be granted full focus free from distractions while sufficing with pens, pencils, paper and possibly highlighters, nothing more.
9. Design a Template for the Minutes of Your Meetings
Break down the minutes of your meeting into a fixed template to ensure that the structure is set out in a way that is easy to facilitate, easy to notate and simple keep track of. Break down your minutes into topics, goals, and presenters, depending on how they are structured. Have the full scope of your agenda set out into categories allowing for purpose, outcome, responsibilities, and deadlines, including any other areas pertinent. By supplying minutes to your meeting, you will minimize the chance of critical information being lost or misconstrued. This allows any team member who missed the meeting to clearly see all of the details, while those present always have a point of reference. It is often a good idea to share the minutes via a collaborative file sharing medium such as Google Documents, in addition to passing it out on paper pursuant to the meeting itself.
Every meeting should be followed-up on with a list of notes, actionable points, and delegated responsibility. Try to provide feedback within twenty-four hours to ascertain that the framework of your meeting is still fresh in the minds of those who attended. Also, a monthly check-in is recommended for most firms so that your measurable objectives can be evaluated, adjusted and new responsibility assigned where needed.
Staging the Perfect Meeting
Regardless of which industry you work in, or what part you play in your enterprise, be sure to foster a creative environment and enthusiastic attitude when scheduling meetings. You will find that it is much easier to think out-of-the-box once you have prearranged and formulated a basic procedure and structure, as is recommended by our ten tips. For brainstorming sessions and meetings where formality is not a definite requirement, it is often better to take your team outdoors or to a foreign area to encourage a collaborative, creative setting.