We’ve all been there: eyes drooping, notes turned to incoherent scribbles, minds wandering and points long forgotten — the useless meeting. Well, perhaps useless is a harsh word. The meeting in its conception probably had a goal, but improper execution drowned out the original aims.
And — at least from my past experiences — this isn’t an uncommon phenomenon.
But what can you do about it? Believe it or not, meetings are a necessary, and often productive, part of everyday business; it just takes a few key essentials to make sure your meeting is effective and valuable for everyone involved.
Set — and actually follow — the right plan. Your meeting can only get off track if you let it. Determine your agenda (bonus points for sending it around ahead of time) and set a strict amount of time for each item on the list. Have someone track time during the meeting and give them the authority to enforce the schedule.
Invite the right people. Some meetings, such as brainstorms, need a lot of minds to fuel the discussion and produce awesome ideas. Others, such as updates and check-ins, do not. If people aren’t paying attention in your meeting, it may be because they feel they don’t need to be there.
Use the right technology. The right tools can make meetings more effective and save you and your attendees tons of time. Don’t make people drive 30 minutes to attend a 15-minute meeting; use virtual conferencing — we obviously suggest GoToMeeting — to get the face-to-face feel without the face-to-face hassle. And when you take notes and track next steps, sending them around with a ShareFile link means everyone always has the most up-to-date information without any extra emails.
Follow up with the right information. Since you — much to their delight — did not invite any nonessential people, send around notes and next steps for team members you want to have in the know. But don’t write a novel; add key points and next steps for each person on your agenda to keep things concise. And see Step 3 for how you should distribute those notes.
No meeting is perfect, but with these tips, it is possible to make your meetings more effective.