Over the years, the humble meeting has gotten something of a bad reputation.
Days of back-to-back meetings, and meetings that discuss other meetings (the joys!), mean that people can find them painful, sometimes egotistical, and often a waste of time.
It’s a shame, because bringing people together and allowing conversation to flow is an amazing communication tool. So, before you write all meetings off, have a look through these basic tips for making the most of your meetings.
To meet or not to meet?
There is nothing more frustrating than being hauled in to a meeting that should have been an email. People are busy, so decide whether a meeting is actually necessary.
Show some consideration for your colleagues if you can, too. If you’re about to book something in for the only hour they’re not already in a meeting, check with them first. If not, they’ll either decline, or be too frazzled to make a great contribution.
If you only need a short session, try a stand-up meeting. They encourage people to keep it brief and feel more casual which is sometimes exactly what’s needed.
Location, location, location…
Mobile workforces + advanced technology = lots of meeting options.
If a meeting is needed, think about whether you need everyone in the room or if a video conference or Skype meeting would be better. Welcome to the future.
Have you got the right people in the room? If the correct people aren’t there, it’s likely that one of two things will happen:
1. You’ll end up having the same meeting again in the not-too-distant future
2. You’ll have a meeting that undoes everything you initially decided
Having the right stakeholders in the room will make everyone’s lives easier, even if it’s a little harder to organise.
Failing to prepare…
You all know the adage. If no one is prepared, meetings are stunted. Send out supporting information in advance to give people the chance to swot up or think of ideas. It’s easier for meetings to flow when they don’t begin from a standing start.
It’s also good do a brief re-cap at the start of the meeting, to refresh everyone’s memories.
Bring your laptop, your tablet, your sketchpad, a video, or whatever you work with that can bring the subject matter to life. People love a visual, and it is likely to keep them focused on the matter in hand, not go off on a tangent. Physically seeing your hard work in action is a great motivation for people.
Make sure clear actions come out of every meeting, so people feel like they gave up their time for a reason, and you won’t have to have a refresher meeting about the meeting you just had. As much as everyone loves those!
When handled correctly, meetings promote innovation, collaboration and communication, and who doesn’t want that? Let’s make them something people want to participate in, rather than pass up on.