Most of us feel that we go to too many meetings. They seem boring, pointless or too long.
But could they be better? Of course they could! Here are 10 tips to make your next meeting more effective!
1. Is this meeting necessary? If the bulk of the meeting is spent on reports that could have been sent out ahead of time, then maybe it isn’t. Instead of using it for reporting, identify a question to be answered or a problem to be solved and then send the reports ahead of time with instructions to come prepared to discuss and produce a result.
2. Are the right people in the room? Let the question or problem determine who attends. You need the people who can contribute to the solution. Customize your meetings to produce a solutions team, not a reporting routine. If this excludes some of your direct reports who are used to meeting with you, create different questions or problems that can be addressed by others so others can participate in solving problems.
3. Do you have a process for managing discussion? Since this is not a reporting sequence and since everyone has been given the reports and the challenge ahead of time, start the meeting by repeating what you want to see accomplished and set a time limit so discussions don’t run on. Agree to some criteria for a solution – must be affordable, implemented with the current personnel, implemented within 3 months, etc.
4. Track responses on flip charts, posted so all can see the comments and ideas. Agree to the components of the solution and then generate ideas without judging. Once the ideas are captured, go back and cluster them into possibilities that can then be discussed.
5. Discuss the possibilities and draft solutions. Depending on the size of the group, you may want to break into sub-groups and give each sub-group a cluster of possibilities to work on. Set a time limit and stay focused.
6. Reconvene the groups to present their solutions. Discuss. Take notes on the flip charts so that solutions emerge. Make sure the solutions meet the criteria set in #3.
7. Select a preferred solution. This may be done by voting or by discussion.
8. Discuss the preferred solution and determine what next steps are to be taken by whom by when.
9. Adjourn on time with agreement on when to reconvene to evaluate next steps.
10. Ensure that all participants receive session notes so that all are working on same assumptions.
Meetings with a purpose will generate much more energy and interest than meetings to just trade information. It may take more preparation on your part to structure them but the results will make them worth the extra effort.