How to Run Efficient Meetings

How to Run Efficient MeetingsHave you ever left a business meeting thinking, “So, what was that about?” Or felt as if nothing got accomplished at all? You’re not alone. Forty-three percent of meeting time is wasted according to Mike Song, CEO of and co-author of The Hamster Revolution for Meetings.

So what can you do to recover lost time? Improve your meeting skills.

1.  Ask yourself this“Is the meeting necessary?” Would an e-mail or quick one-on-one talk with a colleague or two be useful in this situation? Meeting when there’s no need disrupts people’s work days and isn’t typically productive.

“This is an important decision to make,” says William Muir, president of Vectec, a Virginia website-development firm. “You don’t want to meet if you don’t need to meet.

2.  Make some cuts. If you do feel the meeting is essential, make sure that only people involved about the topics being covered attend. If you typically have regular meetings with the same staff and you’re noticing that most of them don’t speak during it, you may want to evaluate if they really need to be there. Also, keep in mind that the bigger the meeting, the more likely it will run longer.

3.  Plan ahead. “Never meet without an agenda,” Muir says. “You’ve got to have one.” Create a clear list of items that you’d like to cover during the meeting, and also anticipate how long each topic will take. That will help not only keep your meeting short and sweet, but create a natural flow allowing for more productivity. It also helps to give meeting attendees a copy of the agenda beforehand so they know what to expect and what to bring to the meeting.

4.  Keep it short. The perfect length for a business meeting? Forty-five minutes, notes TimeBridge, a service helping workplace individuals run effective meetings. And some meetings may be even shorter than that pending what it entails. Just be sure to stay on topic and if you feel the meeting digressing, pull it back quickly.

5.  Itemize. If your meeting will touch on several different subjects, start the meeting with the most important of issues being discussed. People tend to focus better at the beginning of meetings, and getting important issues onto the table first helps keep meetings effective.

6.  Focus. With technology these days, it’s easy to get distracted by cell phones, laptops, iPads, etc. It’s a good idea to go into the meeting sans technology to keep distractions at a minimum. Attendees should, however, bring a notepad to jot down key information from the meeting. While you can make a list on a laptop or other device, these tools offer more diversions than an old school pen and paper. It’s also a good idea to hold the meeting before or after lunch, with no food provided; that also may serve as a distraction.

7.  Keep them engrossed. “You want to interest people,” says Bert Decker, a communications consultant. “It gives them a guide to where you’re going. It has a point of view and an action step. You’re influencing them towards something, not just informing them.” If meeting participants are falling asleep or talking amongst each other because they’re bored, the meeting isn’t going to hold any weight.

8.  Give a recap. At the end of the meeting, give a brief summary of what it was about, and what you’ll need from everyone. That way, no one leaves the meeting confused or unsure of what their next steps are. Being clear about everyone’s expectations allows not only the person getting work done to know what they need to do, but allows other co-workers to know who to come to pending what topic their questions are regarding. You may also consider sending an e-mail recap to the team so that they have something to refer back on.


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