How often do you attend a meeting that you feel is a total waste of your time? No clear agenda is set, nobody seems to be in charge, and nothing gets accomplished. Your time is valuable, so it's important to conduct effective meetings that are productive and informative. Before you assemble your group again, consider these 10 tips to make sure you're leading an effective meeting.
1. Set an Agenda
An effective meeting always has an agenda that clearly defines the goals for the meeting. Print hard copies for all participants, or write it on a whiteboard. This lets everyone know the expected outcome of the meeting.
2. Come Prepared
Show up to the meeting with all the handouts and slides you need, and remember extra pens or notepads for participants. If you expect invitees to discuss specific data or reports at the meeting, distribute it for review well in advance.
3. Start on Time
Time is money, so don't keep people waiting. If the meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m., make sure you're in the conference room and ready to get down to business promptly.
4. Keep an Eye on the Clock
Watch the clock as you progress through your meeting to make sure you're allowing enough time to cover all agenda items. Before the meeting begins, decide, roughly, how much time you should spend on each topic.
5. Eliminate Distractions
Be sure to schedule a conference room or corner of the office that's quiet with limited distractions from foot traffic, printers or other meeting rooms.
6. Stick to the Agenda
Establish yourself as the meeting facilitator, and steer the discussion back to the agenda when participants get off track.
7. Limit Technology Use
Ask all participants to silence their cellphones and other electronic devices for the duration of the meeting. If employees need to take a phone call, ask them to step out of the room.
8. Stand Up
If you plan to have a brief discussion with your team, consider a stand-up meeting. This ensures everyone is alert and focused and makes the meeting more productive.
9. Create an Action Plan
Before you wrap up the meeting, take a few minutes to discuss follow-up items and establish an action plan. Decide what needs to be accomplished, who is responsible for completing and what the deadline is.
10. End on Time
Just as an effective meeting should start on time, it should also end on time. This ensures that employees stay on task throughout the meeting and lets them get back to work promptly.
Ineffective meetings waste company resources and often leave employees bored, confused or frustrated. By following these 10 tips, you can ensure you lead effective meetings that employees don't mind attending.
Photo courtesy of Lee Traupal at Flickr.com