When was the last time you left a meeting and thought, “Wow, that was a great use of everyone’s time?” More often than not, meetings get off-track, run over schedule, and end up repeating information that could have been summed up in an email.
The fact is, running effective meetings is a skill that most leaders lack.
Fortunately, effective meeting management is possible. With a little strategy, your organization will be running effective meetings in no time. Here’s what I’ve learned about crafting effective business meetings.
Ground Rules for Effective Meetings
The key to running effective meetings is to establish a few ground rules. The following tips are proven to be effective meeting strategies that can help keep your sessions on track.
- Be on time. In this regard, you must lead by example. Your employees won’t take punctuality seriously if the meeting organizer is always five minutes late. Also, don’t tolerate your participants arriving late.
- Keep your meetings short and focused. Don’t repeat, ramble, or go off on a tangent. Work off an agenda, so no one loses track of where you are. One of the biggest problems is allowing a minor issue to dominate the available time.
- Try holding short stand-up meetings. If everyone must stand until the session is over, no one will be too inclined to talk for long.
- Avoid having meetings just for the sake of meetings. Think long and hard about whether a potential meeting could be summed up in an email or phone call.
- Pick unusual locations in which to meet. Holding a meeting outside when the weather is beautiful can be a quick morale boost. Some people enjoy having walking meetings to keep participants on their toes.
- Keep it under 45 minutes. If you can’t conclude in 45 minutes, you and your participants need to prepare better before your next meeting. Asking your employees to sit still longer than 45 minutes is asking for trouble.
- Pace new information and seek closure. It’s better to talk about fewer ideas and to come to a conclusion rather than to have an extended agenda. Here is a pro tip: early agenda items always stimulate the most dialog and time. If you have a controversial topic, put a minor topic before it on the agenda.
- Speaking of agendas, send yours out before the meeting so your participants have time to gather their thoughts and prepare any resources they’ll need to bring.
- For conference calls and phone meetings, you should keep things interactive to maintain interest. If you’re not engaging with your participants, they’re probably not going to pay attention for long.
- Finally, the secret to running effective meetings is actually to “run” them. If your participants are getting off-track, it’s your job to herd them back to the topic at hand.
At the end of the day, it’s in everyone’s best interest to have meetings that are short, sweet, interesting and to the point. If you follow these tips, you’ll soon see that running effective meetings is more doable than you think.
If you’re still having trouble running effective meetings, I can help. My blog is full of free articles that can help you improve your leadership skills and establish your authority. Sign up for my newsletter to get each new weekly article delivered right to your inbox.