Meetings waste too much time in our modern business world. Do you know that feeling of leaving a meeting without having accomplished a single thing? We meet way too often with too many people for too long, all while speaking about too broad topics.
Meetings have huge power. Being together in person helps us to push topics forward faster than any other way of communication could ever do. Especially in modern approaches of organizing a firm that aims to supplant bureaucracy with conversation, getting together in person is more important than ever before. The problem arises when we approach meetings without structure. Here are 5 simple rules that will help to boost productivity for your meetings.
#1 Stick to the plan
To run an efficient meeting first of all requires being prepared. Create an agenda and spend twice as much time on it as you normally would. If you then have your plan, stick to it. An efficient meeting requires a single facilitator who owns the meeting and the discussion. Do not allow people to wander too much away from the subject. Instead, refocus to the agenda and the topic. Also, do not allow people to hide behind their laptop.
#2 Plan outcomes
Preparing the meeting includes not only agenda creation but also a plan for specific outcomes. What do you want to achieve with this meeting? Which decisions have to be made? The more detailed you plan your desired outcomes, the more efficient you can structure your meeting. Build the agenda in a way that supports the generation of outcomes. When reviewing your desired meeting outcomes, you will also be able to review the purpose of the meeting. This is the right moment to question if you really need a meeting for solving this issue.
#3 Small wins
Many meetings simply involve too many people. The more people you invite to your meeting, the less productive it will be. This is simply caused by the fact that more people will join the discussion and more ideas will be in the room. This can be fine if you want to validate your ideas or need some brainstorming input. In other cases, you will just bust your efficiency. So simply reduce the number of attendees.
#4 Break the routine
If you do regular meetings like status updates or management weeklies, you will know that over time there evolves some routine. Every single time you go through the same agenda, you sit in the same room, and you see the same faces. This routine can be a real downer to your productivity as it kills your creativity. At some point, you will stop spending attention to the details, as everything is familiar to you. Try to break out of this routine by moving to different rooms, switching times, or bringing in some unexpected agenda item.
#5 Time matters
Setting a tight timeline will help to speed your meeting up. Keep it as short as possible, most things can be discussed in 10-25 minutes. Also, be timely and do not start your meeting 1 second late. Show respect to the calendar of others and again: stick to the plan. Take control over your meeting time and you will automatically start to approach meetings in a more structured way.