A company meeting should have value and be full of ideas. It needs to be an exchange of ideas on how to improve the business’s output. It should be about solving company problems with actionable suggestions. But, that isn’t how it often goes.
What usually happens is someone takes the floor and goes on and on about things which could be solved by an email message. Or with employees who are checking their smartphones on the sly and only interacting when asked a direct question. Or, if there was a problem with a project, a lot of blame being thrown around but nothing being done about solving the problem. So, when the meeting is over, you wonder why you called it in the first place. So, what can be done about having inefficient meetings?
First, be sure you and anyone else who’s speaking is prepared. Have all the information on-hand and ready to go; there’s nothing worse than waiting for someone to gather their notes together. Whoever is speaking needs to be prepared and be willing to share the information dealing with the reason the meeting was called.
In a meeting which is run efficiently, everyone is present and ready. The agenda is clear too because the topics have already been defined and needed information has been gathered and sent to everyone beforehand. Everything is set so that you can go over such things as a new project or get ideas on who need to run it. You can clarify due dates to keep everyone on the ball. Problems can also be discussed where everyone has thought about things so that solutions can be offered. After it’s over, you feel accomplished and energized; especially since if it is on topic and meeting goals defined, the meeting won’t last a lifetime.
How to make your meetings more efficient
Make up an agenda, a clear direction, set expectations and give people time to be ready for your meeting. Announce your meeting date a few days before and draw up a memo to pass around beforehand. Create a list of what you’d like other people to provide input on and mark the items you’d like to have brainstorming sessions on. Also, mark the topics that you would like a group decision on.
This way, people will have time to think about your memo for a better conversational flow. When you lay out a clear agenda like this, it gives more time for discussion and let ideas flow.
Another thing with meetings too that could be a problem is when you feel that you have to make the meeting longer to meet the allotted time scheduled. It’s better to finish the session early though if you have covered all your topics. So, don’t extend the meeting to the allotted time expecting more output when people came to the meeting prepared. If you have said everything that you needed to say and vice versa, then end the meeting. Your employees will thank you.
In addition, if you don’t have enough space for everyone at your meeting, then you’ve invited too many people. This can cost you also because when you have someone attend a meeting, it’s cut into their productive time. These people are then standing in halls doing nothing. Or it could even cut into their lunch hour which breeds unhappy employees. One rule of thumb then is that the ideal number of people for a meeting is seven at a time for group tasks. With each person that you go over that number with, the decision-making process goes down by 10% in efficiency. When the number of individuals reaches about 17, then the effectiveness of decision-making is about 0% statistically; it’s too many cooks in the kitchen.
Plus, for a more productive meeting, have everyone coming to the meeting leave their mobile devices at their personal desks. When mobile devices are present at a meeting, then undivided attention is not. So, a set of ground rules for meetings needs to be enforced. These could be, for example, to be on time, leaving mobile devices behind, taking notes is mandatory, and be ready to discuss whatever topics are on the agenda. Be sure to add these rules at the bottom of your memo so that people are aware.
Remember, by respecting your employees time; your meetings will be better and more productive ones.