Meetings are, without a doubt, the fastest way to waste time in the workplace. Meetings aren’t inherently wrong, but between late arrivals, off-topic tangents, and lack of structure, it’s common to have hour-long sessions where hardly anything gets done. Worse still are the meetings that could have easily been a phone call or email instead.
There are many tips out there on conducting effective meetings, but the real key to a productive meeting is a great facilitator.
If you can keep your meetings in check, you can accomplish much more in a shorter amount of time. Here are a few essential tips for effective meeting management.
What Makes an Effective Meeting?
Let’s talk about where meetings often go wrong. Meetings that lack a strong facilitator tend to ramble on for much longer than necessary. How many times have you been in a meeting where there was no clear facilitator, or where the person in that role was disengaged, uninformed, or just plain dull?
A strong meeting facilitator can command attention and move the agenda along without lingering on any one topic for too long. Facilitators must be good speakers and listeners, understand the goal of the meeting, and have the energy to remain engaged and enthusiastic for the duration of the session.
Effective meeting management requires you to take an honest look at your company meetings to see where you can improve. Sometimes the reason your meetings aren’t productive enough is you.
Facilitating Effective Team Meetings
Effective meeting management begins with a hard look in the mirror. Where are your leadership skills lacking? Focus on developing your listening and speaking skills to be sure you’re hearing everyone and communicating clearly.
Sometimes meetings benefit from a little homework. It’s a good idea to ask your employees to research topics beforehand, so everyone is on the same page when it comes time for the meeting. Instead of spending your time rehashing basic concepts, you can use your meeting time to jump right into the critical issues.
Always, always have an agenda for your meetings to keep everyone on track—and most importantly, don’t get too ambitious. Recognize that it still takes longer to run through agenda items in person than it does in your head. It’s your responsibility as a facilitator to keep the meeting moving and prevent your team from dwelling too long on any one item.
Facilitating a meeting doesn’t mean you have to talk the whole time. On the contrary: you’ll bore your coworkers and productivity will wane. Instead, assign talking points to specific team members ahead of time to allow everyone time to prepare. You’ll have a more engaged audience, and everyone will have the chance to contribute.
Finally, effective meeting management means knowing when to call it quits. If a meeting stalls and you find you’re not making any progress, adjourn the meeting and reconvene at a later time. It might help to assign more research in the meantime or to ask your employees to brainstorm on their own, so you’ll arrive at the next meeting in a better position to succeed.
Meetings are a necessary part of doing business. If you’re struggling to make the most out of yours, click on my contact form for a complimentary video call to work through developing facilitation skills for effective meeting management.