How many times have you found yourself staring blankly at the wall during another pointless meeting which seems to last for hours? I often find myself baffled at how senior management seems to be clueless when it comes to conducting efficient meetings.
Conducting efficient meetings might seem easy to achieve but is rather challenging. Many people aspire to express themselves and be heard and a meeting is just the place. A delicate balance needs to be achieved between avoiding the waste of time and avoiding insulting or hurting fellow workers.
The best way to conduct efficient meetings is setting the right ground. By setting the right ground the meeting can be channeled to where we want it.
Here are my recommendations on setting the right ground for efficient meetings:
1. A meeting should have a clear goal – If you’ve decided to allocate your co-worker’s precious time resource to a meeting be sure to have a clear and understandable goal. An example can be deciding on the next marketing campaign strategy.
2. Make sure the goal is also attainable – Having a clear goal is not enough. It should also be attainable. Ending a meeting with no achievements or decisions is frustrating and reinforces the feeling of wasted time. If you’ve decided to conduct a meeting you need to be sure all the proper background work has been completed and the required information for taking a decision is available.
3. Publicize the meeting’s goal and methodology – Make the meeting’s goal public knowledge and also explain the methodology which will guide the decision process (For example: who will present what information?) This should be done formally or informally by the organization’s means of mass communications and include:
a. The goal
b. The background
c. The agenda
d. The participants
e. The methodology
4. Always have an agenda – Setting a proper time frame for a meeting in advance is crucial. When in the heat of the meeting it is sometimes difficult to control the various speakers which may present irrelevant information for extended lengths of time. By setting an agenda in the comfort of your office you are able to consider the time frame each speaker should be allocated pending on the importance and relevance of what he has to say. Making the agenda public can help greatly throughout the meeting and acts as an anchor for all participants. When you have an agenda time is your asset. Use it to steer the meeting where you want it to go.
5. Stick to the game plan – Participants will often work hard to divert the discussion to other directions. Many issues discussed have overlapping issues some more sensitive then others. Each discussion has the potential of going everywhere. Be assertive and nip any attempt (wither intentional or unintentional) of diverting the discussion in the bud.
6. Have the meeting summed up and publicized – Assign a note taker and have the meetings summed up and publicized. This will keep everyone up to speed, reduce miss understandings and help preserve organizational knowledge.
As always, I’d love to hear from your experience and further ideas you might have.