Even though we gripe and groan about them, meetings are an important part of doing business. Not only do they get all key players on the same page, but they also can foster an environment of collaboration – when they are run correctly.
These most common complaints about meetings refer to poorly designed meetings:
- Meetings never start or end on time.
- The topics weren’t relevant to me.
- We spend too much time on tangents.
- No one is prepared to have productive conversations.
- One person does all the talking.
- I spend all day in meetings and have no time to do the work.
- We never accomplish what we need to accomplish.
Well-run meetings have the opposite feedback. However, learning to run efficient meetings is a skill that must be learned. Here are the three most important steps in designing productive meetings.
Schedule Internal Meetings on One Day
While it may seem more productive to spread meetings out through the week, having all of the company’s internal meetings on one day allows employees to schedule a consistent day to run a “manager’s schedule” and four other days to operate on a “maker’s schedule.” When all employees are moving from one meeting into the next, it helps keep everyone on task because they collectively understand that the meeting cannot run late.
Scheduling internal meetings on one day helps to eliminate many of the concerns above, including meetings never start or end on time, no one is prepared, and I have no time to do the actual work.
Additionally, if all the internal meetings happen on one day, the energy of the day can be designed and leveraged. If the day starts with discussions between the more targeted groups and broadens throughout the day, the culmination in a company-wide meeting can result in conversations about important learning points and takeaways.
Publish the Agenda of Each Meeting
No meeting should ever begin without a clearly defined agenda. This does not mean that the boss should have an idea of what needs to be discussed; it should be well thought out, written down, and organized.
The agenda shouldn’t be a mystery to the meeting attendees. It should be shared well in advance, so that each person can plan for the meeting, gather relevant information or questions, and know that the meeting is specifically relevant to them.
Defining and publishing the agenda can eliminate inefficiencies that contribute to frustrations including: the topics weren’t relevant to me; we spend too much time on tangents; and no one is prepared to have productive conversations.
Require Productivity and Engagement
Meetings should not result in a multitude of offline conversations. For the most part, all discussions on the topic at hand should happen during the meeting. Everyone should speak up with insights, updates, disagreements, and contributions. After all, the time to discuss this topic is now; when things get brought up after the meeting, it often nullifies some of the work that happened during the meeting. Ensure that all players are prepared and proactive, so the meeting can result in actual progress.
Meetings should not be lectures; they should be conversations. Therefore, no one should dominate the speaking. Facilitators should pose questions and keep the meeting on track, but they should not present all the answers.
Meetings that are productive and engaging eliminate complaints such as we spend too much time on tangents, one person does all the talking, and we never accomplish what we need to accomplish.
About the Author
With more than three decades of experience in all facets of sales management, customer service, business growth, and staff coordination, Certified Business Coach Greg Emslie is a focused professional with the tools to help you grow and manage your business effectively.
Driven by his ability to implement proven business concepts and help improve teams, Greg affects all areas of the companies he works with, including sales, leadership, profitability, and decision-making. He focuses on improving efficiency and processes for his clients while helping them grow their revenue base.
Ready to begin finding other ways to make your company more productive? Let’s get the conversation started. Contact Greg Emslie for a business strategy discussion today!