Many managers agree, most meetings are time wasters. Things tend to go round and round, it is hard to make your voice heard over one or two dominant personalities and nothing seems to get done after each meeting.
These are just some of the seven reasons why your meetings are unproductive that we discussed in the previous article. No one wants to waste their time and effort so here are ways to run the ideal meeting.
- Keep it short and simple (KISS). Scientists found out that man’s average attention span is between 10 to 18 minutes so anything beyond this timeframe, people won’t be able to pay attention. Limiting your meetings to this timeframe forces participants to have a purpose and be upfront. It also forces participants to prepare for the meeting with task lists so they can finish on time.
- Have your meeting standing up. We sit on our desks all day that standing up is a good way of staying awake. It’s also a great way of keeping meetings short, because standing up is bound to get uncomfortable after a long time in the same position.Conducting your meeting standing up is also a great equalizer. People want to participate more share ideas and come up with quality work. Many successful organisations also do quick meetings standing up on a daily basis. This quick huddle helps the team stay in touch of their deliverables regularly.
- Write down your notes. Handwriting your notes is a great way of remembering the items you discussed during your meeting. Research shows that people who take down handwritten notes were more likely to recall the information and understand the concepts better than those who did their note taking electronically. So on your next meeting, you may want to ban the laptop as much as possible.
- Tell everyone to leave their cellphones. Since you are keeping your meetings short, it’s also wise to have a cellphone ban. Answering or checking up on one’s phone tends to be a distraction and may unnecessarily extend the meeting or make it less productive. So either your teammates keep their phones on silent mode, or have everyone deposit their phones on a basket until the meeting is over.
- Establish people directly responsible for the tasks that need to be done. To ensure that things get done, assign someone to be directly responsible for them. This sets accountability and makes the team aware who needs to do which part of the project.
- Establish concrete steps. Along with directly responsible individuals, every meeting should end with a concrete action plan where everyone is clear on what they need to do.
- Bring solutions, not problems. Meetings are a great way of ensuring teamwork. By focusing on the solution and not on who is to blame, participants maintain their focus. Finger-pointing is usually not a productive exercise as people focus on who to blame rather than discuss the problem and its solution. A leader or facilitator should be able to steer the meeting towards more productive pursuits.
Meetings need not be time wasters and the end of productivity. Handled well, meetings are a wonderful way of building teamwork, developing people skills and collaboration and the sharing of ideas.