There are many (light-hearted) jokes to be made about meetings — most people would rather be working on their respective tasks instead of spending time in conference rooms with a group of coworkers who are a mix of uninterested and distracted. When not organized well, meetings can be inefficient, ineffective, and can end up wasting valuable time that could otherwise be used for developing the next team project.
Checking up on status reports and leading brainstorming sessions doesn’t have to be groan-inducing. Luckily, there are ways to restructure a stale meeting so that everyone can participate by being both engaged and involved. The rules of productivity for individuals can also be applied to group situations, but with slight variations to account for the many personality types who come together.
Planning The Meeting
When deadlines are coming up, preparedness is key in keeping everyone on task. Taking the time to go through a brief outline of what to expect out of the meeting and the roles they can all play will make the best use of the available time. In planning a department meeting, consider the following goals:
Mix Up The Environment
A new location can do a wonders for productivity in a meeting. A change of pace will give the team members a reason to look forward to the discussion, and the excitement about switching up their typical work routines will carry into talking points.
Keep It Small
Instead of calling a meeting for multiple areas of the office, portion out the times for each individual department. Inviting only a core group to a particular meeting will ensure that any distractions will be kept to a minimum since only that group’s projects or points will be discussed.
Determine The Priorities
Make an outline of the priorities so that everyone knows what to expect. The overall goal is to keep the meeting on track and address every point on the agenda. This can be done by either sending out a preliminary email with a few bullet points or by handing out a physical copy of goals at the meeting. Having communication before the meeting can also help to cut out any questions or feedback that could take up valuable time later on.
Conducting The Meeting
Going into your meeting with some preparation is half of winning the battle and making the most out of everyone’s time. But even with an agenda and goals, the meeting itself can be side-tracked. Use the following tactics to keep everyone on task:
With everyone constantly glued to their devices, distractions can come from Twitter notifications, emails, or from someone loudly smacking their gum at the conference table. Having snacks and drinks available can be a major distraction, so keep it simple with less noisy items and water. Instead of using laptops, have the meeting attendees take notes with a paper and pen. Changing up normal routines will help everyone better focus on the task at hand and will be seen as a “new,” creative way of doing the usual tasks they have come to expect.
Setting a timer is essential to keeping the meeting brief — the recommended length for a meeting is about 15-minutes, but that can be difficult to put into practice. However, by structuring an outline and assigning discussion areas to certain attendees, the key points can be quickly acknowledged.
Meetings don’t have to drone on and on, and with these tips and tricks in your pocket, the productivity and efficiency of your team’s gatherings are sure to increase.