In many organizations, a lot of time is spent on unnecessary meetings which take too long. There are way too many people present at the meeting who don’t contribute anything to the topic at hand or keep talking too long or go off-topic entirely.
In this article, I will give 7 tips for quick and effective meetings that have been tried and tested throughout my career.
1. Is It Necessary?
Do you really need to set up a meeting for this topic?
In many cases, issues can be discussed by e-mail, a phone call or in a one on one meeting. Even if it’s a recurring meeting you can choose to cancel it if there is nothing urgent to discuss.
2. The Topic Should Be Clear
Make sure that the topic of the meeting is very clear.
Ask participants to prepare and make sure that all necessary information is available during the meeting.
If necessary, have experts from different teams already talk to each other and come up with proposals that can be discussed. Never try to resolve a complicated problem in a meeting. You can always plan a workshop for that.
3. Only Relevant People
Make sure only the relevant people are invited. Anyone who doesn’t have a specific task or responsibility should not be in the meeting. Be very strict about that. More people usually means more time spent in the meeting, and time equals money and productivity loss.
Allow people to leave the meeting if they no longer need to be there.
4. Be Prepared
Get your stuff together in advance, make sure that the room is booked and that everything is working. Like phones, screens, teleconference equipment, et cetera. Also make sure that information like phone numbers, internet addresses, and login credentials have been shared with all participants.
Don’t allow laptops on the conference table, it will distract people and creates a barrier between the participants.
5. Start On Time
Try to avoid long meetings. One hour at the most, after that people lose focus and they are already thinking about their next meeting. Or start fidgeting with their phones and pens. Keep a strict time table. If people are late, don’t wait for them. Also, don’t repeat what already has been said if people come in later. That is disrespectful and boring for the people who managed to get there on time. Tough luck for the people who were too late. Usually, it’s always the same people who don’t make it on time.
6. Stay On Track
Stick to the topic at hand. Everything that is not related to the topic of the meeting should be discussed outside the meeting (‘let’s take this offline’). You can always set up a separate meeting if the issue or topic is important. Appoint a chairperson who will keep the meeting on track and on time.
7. Write It Down But Don’t Exaggerate
Keep notes, making extensive minutes is not necessary. The most important information is the action list. Check at the end of the meeting if everything is on the list, the simpler the better. After the meeting, immediately send an e-mail with the action points to all the participants or else you might forget what is discussed.