Posted by Robert Half on 23 March 2015
Nothing is more inefficient than a business meeting that goes on for hours on end.
The drawbacks of ineffective meetings go beyond the time issue. Poorly run discussions interrupt being productive and further hinder workflow when they go later than scheduled. Wasting colleagues’ time also shows disrespect and drives down morale.
It’s no wonder the combination of lost time, productivity and morale makes meetings such an extremely costly issue.
And yet, it seems altogether impossible to do away with them completely, as meetings often serve to ensure that everyone is on track and working towards the same goals.
It is actually possible to keep meetings short, and productive. Here are five easy tips on running efficient meetings to implement straight away.
1. Have an agenda
If you’re the manager calling for the meeting, make sure you send an email to everyone involved so everyone’s on track about what it entails. This will ensure that the stakeholders come prepared with their necessary reports or status updates. Use bullet points for greater clarity. And with an agenda, it’s advised to have the person setting it be the moderator as well to ensure that the topics don’t stray off course.
2. Ensure presentations don’t go on for more than 10 minutes
The most productive meetings are the ones where everyone is engaged and ready to contribute, so starting a meeting with a presentation that goes on for 40 slides will kill the pace of an efficient meeting. If presentations are necessary, use them to make larger, more important points, and keep the nitty-gritty for further discussion in a smaller group setting.
3. Ban tech devices
Another time wasting item is having to repeat a point because someone was too busy checking and replying their emails. To ensure this doesn’t happen, enforce a rule where no one is allowed to bring their laptops or smartphones into the meeting room. If taking notes is necessary, tell employees to do it the old-fashioned way: With a pen and paper. Get all digital distractions (where possible) out of the way so that participants can focus better and employ their listening skills.
4. Choose a meeting time wisely
Mondays and Fridays are probably not the best days to call for meetings; people may be slow to start their engines at the start of the week, or watching the clock on the last day of it. The time of the day is an equally important factor to take into consideration. If you have the meeting first thing in the morning, people might come under-prepared. Meetings held before lunch (as long as you don’t overrun to lunch), or around 3pm between Tuesdays to Thursdays might just be your best shot. A little time management can go a long way.
5. Have everyone stand up during meetings
Research has shown that meetings that are conducted with participants standing are not just shorter, they are also more productive than the ones done sitting. When everyone is standing, there is also the chance that their tech devices are out of reach.
It’s not always easy to run successful meetings, let alone ensure people are happy to attend. As a rule of thumb, meetings should not go on for longer than 45 minutes. Any longer and you risk losing the attention of everyone present.
What practices do you have in place to make sure your meeting run on time? Let us know in the comment section below: