Meetings are a necessary evil of any business, but they can easily suck away everyone’s valuable time. With a few careful choices in meeting planning, a savvy leader can ensure everyone gets the information they need, without wasting the day.
#1: Schedule only what you need. Rather than the usual thirty minute or hour block, go with 15 minutes, or even less. Meetings expand to fill their allotted time.
#2: Don’t sit down. Getting comfortable around the conference table invites everyone to accept a longer meeting. Stand or walk, and you’ll get the meeting done on time.
#3: Sound the alarm. Visibly set a timer, and everyone will be more likely to keep on-task and on- When the alarm signals the end of the meeting, that’s it. The meeting is over.
#4: Expect readiness. Send out a reminder email the day before the meeting. Ask everyone to bring their fully-formed thoughts about the subject at hand. Everyone should come prepared with their thoughts and convey them succinctly.
#5: Form an action plan. Meetings should help everyone figure something out and create a plan going forward that swings into action as soon as the meeting is over. Make it clear who will do what and when it will be complete.
#6: Follow up. Check in on the action points soon after they are due. Don’t hold another meeting for this – simply handle it by spending a few minutes with each person to find out where they are on the tasks. Update others via email.
Streamlined gatherings mean everyone will walk away with the information they need but no one will be wasting time around the conference table.